For the first time in history, legislation makes lynching a federal hate crime
Washington, D.C. – The Emmett Till Antilynching Act – a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) – was signed into law. The legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming support, makes lynching a federal hate crime.
“After decades of failed attempts to outlaw lynching at the federal level, Congress has finally succeeded in passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” said Senator Collins. “This long overdue legislation affirms the United States’ commitment to combatting lawlessness, bigotry, and violence. I am pleased that President Biden has signed this bill into law. We must commit ourselves to a future of greater understanding, reconciliation, and justice. ”
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act amends the U.S. Code to designate lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The legislation is named after Emmett Till, an African American teenager from Chicago, Illinois, who was lynched while visiting family in Mississippi in 1955. His death galvanized the emerging Civil Rights Movement.
In 2014, Senator Collins sponsored the Emmett Till Memorial Tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds. The sycamore tree was planted in honor of Emmet Till. During the tree planting ceremony, she noted that, “the American sycamore that we dedicate to Emmett Till would have been familiar to him in the parks and tree-lined streets of Chicago.”
The bill was introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC). In addition to Senator Collins, the bill was co-sponsored by Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tina Smith (D-MN).