Legislation that will make lynching a hate crime, is closer than ever to being passed. According to CNN, lawmakers in the House of Representatives are expected to cast a vote on the measure this week.
The bill in the House will likely be merged with the anti-lynching legislation passed last year in the Senate, and then be presented to Donald Trump for signing. House Democrats are hoping to keep the name of the bill, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, which was titled in honor of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicago native who was the victim of a racial terror lynching in 1955 while on a visit to Mississippi. Till, after his death, became an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and his brutal killing was a symbol for what African Americans were facing at the time.
The House measure specifies that under federal law “an offense involving lynching is a hate crime act. A violator is subject to criminal penalties—a prison term, a fine, or both.” CNN reports that it is expected to pass with at least a two-thirds majority, and has broad appeal among lawmakers.
Democratic Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, along with Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina were the sponsors of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act that was passed last year in the Senate. That bill, much like the House bill, outlined the history of lynching in the United States, and made it a federal crime on the basis of it being a civil rights violation.
In a statement announcing the House vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “On Wednesday, the House will consider the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, which will explicitly designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law. As we renew our commitment to confronting racism and hate during #BlackHistoryMonth, the House will take this historic step to demonstrate that commitment.”