U.S. President Joe Biden Signs Bill Making Lynching a Federal Hate Crime

United States President Joe Biden on March 29 signed a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime after Congress failed over 200 times to pass a similar legislation for over a century.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is named after  Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager from Chicago who was abducted, beaten, and killed after Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white woman, said he whistled at her and touched her in Mississippi in 1955.

Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on March 7 after the House passed it on Feb. 28 in a 422-3 vote.

Biden said during the bill signing ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, where Till’s family was present, that the legislation was “not just about the past. It’s about the present, and our future as well.”

“From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to countless other acts of violence, countless victims known and unknown, the same racial hatred that drove the mob to hang a noose brought that mob carrying torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years ago,” Biden said.

“Racial hate isn’t an old problem. It’s a persistent problem,” Biden further said.

The enacted legislation, introduced by Representative Bobby Rush, will make it possible to prosecute an individual who conspires to commit a hate crime offense that results in death or serious bodily injury or that includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.

Under the legislation, perpetrators could face up to 30 years in prison.

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