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Harris, Booker, Scott Applaud House Passage of Anti-Lynching Legislation

February 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) on Wednesday applauded the House of Representatives for passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, legislation that would make lynching a federal crime for the first time in the history of the United States. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL).

Harris, along with her colleagues, Booker and Scott, led the Senate passage of anti-lynching legislation in 2018, marking the first time in American history that federal anti-lynching legislation had been passed by the Senate. Harris, Booker, and Scott’s anti-lynching legislation passed the Senate again last year. 

“Lynchings were racially motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history,” said Sen. Harris. “They were acts against people who should have received justice, but did not. With this bill, we are able to change that by explicitly criminalizing lynching under federal law. I applaud Congressman Rush and the House of Representatives for speaking truth about our past and making it clear that these acts must never happen again without serious and swift consequences and accountability. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill’s passage.”

“Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Sen. Booker said. “Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings in order to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation. If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence. Now the Senate must again pass this bill to ensure that it finally becomes law.”

“Last year the Senate passed this important legislation, and I am pleased the House is following suit,” said Sen. Scott. “It is important we show that hate will not win.”

“Lynching, plain and simple, is an American evil. This atrocity is comparable to the French use of the guillotine, the Roman Empire’s use of crucifixion, and the British use of drawing and quartering as a tool of terrorism. And, for too long now, federal law against lynching has remained conspicuously silent,” said Rep. Rush. “Today, we will send a strong message that violence —and race-based violence, in particular — has no place in American society. I am immensely grateful to Senators Harris, Booker, and Scott for working with my office on this landmark piece of legislation, and I look forward to it being quickly passed in the Senate and immediately sent to the President to be signed into law.”

From 1882 to 1986, Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation 200 times. Lynching was used as an instrument of terror and intimidation 4,084 times during the late 19th and 20th centuries, according to data from the Equal Justice Initiative.


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