Biden makes lynching a federal hate crime

Legislation to the same effect was first proposed more than 100 years ago.

Updated: March 29, 2022 - 7:05pm

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, making lynching a federal hate crime.

The bill was named after Emmett Till, a black teenager whose 1955 Mississippi slaying was a major event that contributed to the start of the civil rights movement. While similar legislation was proposed more than 100 years ago, H.R. 55 is the first to become law.

In remarks in the Rose Garden after signing the law, Biden thanked Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he said was a cosponsor of the bill when she served in the Senate. He then thanked Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, N.Y.; Dick Durbin, Ill.; and Cory Booker, N.J.

Biden also thanked South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who was unable to attened the event.

The bill, introduced by Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush, passed the House in February at 422 to 3 and passed the Senate unanimously in March.

"Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone, belongs in America, not everyone is created equal," Biden told the audience after signing the bill, The Associated Press reported.

"Racial hate isn’t an old problem — it’s a persistent problem," he said, adding, "Hate never goes away. It only hides."

The law makes it a federal offense punishable by up to 30 years in prison to be involved in conspiracy to commit a hate crime leads to serious injury or death.