Biden signs into law first anti-lynching bill in U.S. history

President Biden signed into law Tuesday a historic bill to make lynching a federal hate crime in the U.S. for the first time.

Why it matters: The new law comes after more than 200 attempts to codify federal anti-lynching legislation.

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Details: Under the new law, a crime would be prosecuted as a lynching when death or serious bodily injury results from a conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

  • A convicted perpetrator would face up to 30 years in prison.

  • The bill was named in honor of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy whose brutal 1955 torture and murder in Mississippi helped spark the civil rights movement.

Between the lines, via Axios’ Russell Contreras: By finally making lynching a unique federal crime, the nation is coming to terms with how lynching was used to enforce a racial social order at the risk of violence against people of color.

What they’re saying: «Today, I am thinking of Emmett Till and the countless other victims of this brutal crime whose names we do not know,» Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who led the bill in the House, said in a statement. «His lynching … had a ripple effect that we still feel today; it began a movement to reckon with freedom, justice, and equality all around the world.»

  • «The signing of this bill is a victory for the City of Chicago, a victory for America, and a victory for Black America in particular.»

  • «My family was devastated that no one was held responsible for the abduction, torture, and murder of Emmett,» Wheeler Parker Jr., Till’s cousin, said in a statement. «But we are heartened by this new law, which shows that Emmett still speaks in powerful ways to make sure that no one can get away with a racist crime like this ever again.»

  • «For people of color, lynching has been a [ubiquitous] part of American life following Reconstruction, as an act of racial power to enforce place in our society,» added Christopher Benson, president of the Till Institute board.

  • «This law makes us face our nation’s history, and helps us recognize the need for systemic change to advance the values of a truly multicultural society.»

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