After failing to pass anti-lynching bills more than 200 times since 1900, the House finally passed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime.
Dubbed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, lawmakers passed legislation on Monday in a 422-3 vote, NBC News reports. As part of the new bill, crimes can be prosecuted as lynching when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury.
Those found guilty of lynching can face up to 30 years in prison. Introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill, Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Andrew S. Clyde, R-Ga. were among those who voted against the new bill.
“By passing my Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, the House has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course,” Rush said.
BREAKING: The House of Representatives just passed my Emmett Till #AntilynchingAct by a vote of 422–3!
This bill will ensure that the full force of the federal government is ALWAYS brought to bear on individuals who commit the monstrous act of lynching.
Now, on to the Senate! pic.twitter.com/VEbSuUBhNA
— Bobby L. Rush (@RepBobbyRush) March 1, 2022
Named in honor of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Till was abducted from his family’s home, tortured, and fatally shot before being tossed into the Tallahatchie River.
While Till’s killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were eventually acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Following the acquittal, they sold their story of killing Till to a journalist, PBS reports. The murder horrified the nation and helped sparked the civil rights movement that kicked off with the Montgomery bus boycott three months later.
One of Till’s family members, who lived with the teen until his murder, applauded the new anti-lynching bill, as noted by ABC 7 Chicago.
“Hopefully people will think twice before they go out and commit a crime against a different person because of their race or gender or lifestyle,” Ollie Gordon, Emmett Till’s cousin said.