US recognizes lynching as hate crime — Analysis

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was signed into law by Joe Biden, the US president. This makes lynching an American hate crime for first time ever. Emmett, an African American 14-year old boy was murdered and tortured by Mississippi’s two white men in 1955.

“Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal,”After signing the bill, the president spoke at the White House. “Racial hate isn’t an old problem. It’s a persistent problem. Hate doesn’t go away. Hate only hides. All of us have to stop it.”

It passed both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously earlier this month. Only three congressmen opposed it were present in the House of Representatives vote of 422.

It is possible to charge as hate crimes any conspirato commit a lynching which results in the death of serious bodily harm. The law defines ‘hate crimes’ as “offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.”

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US Vice President Kamala Harris, who co-sponsored the legislation during her tenure as a senator from California, supported the president’s move to sign the bill by saying, “Lynching is not a relic of the past. Our nation still experiences racial acts of terror. And when they do, we must all have the courage to name them and hold the perpetrators to account.”

Harris pointed out that anti-lynching legislation first appeared in Congress in 1900. This law was finally adopted after more than 200 hearings and a century of struggle in Congress.

Emmett Till is a symbol of civil right activists because his mother made it open to display his disfigured body at his funeral. In August 1955, he allegedly made a sexual advance towards a white woman – a claim rejected by his relatives. The woman’s husband and brother were prosecuted over Emmett’s death, but were acquitted by the jury. The couple later confessed that they had committed the murder during a magazine interview but were never brought to trial.

Tuskegee University has found that 4,743 Americans were lynched between 1882-1868, with 3,446 African Americans being lynched and 1,297 whites.

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