Reps. Taylor, Moulton, and Bacon Introduce Bill to Criminalize Lynching

Bipartisan Legislation to Bring Healing

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Washington, March 11, 2021 | Anna R. McCormack (202-570-0927) | comments

WASHINGTON -  Representatives Van Taylor (R-TX-03), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), and Seth Moulton (D-MA-06) introduced bipartisan legislation amending the United States Code to criminalize lynching and provide for enhanced sentencing under existing federal hates crimes statutes. 

H.R. 1727, the Emmett Till and Will Brown Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, would recognize lynching as a tool used to intimidate and deny civil rights based on personal prejudices - making the act of lynching a federal crime.

“The time for lynching to become a federal crime is more than a hundred years overdue. While no legislation can erase the atrocities of history, we must take steps to ensure such tragedies never occur again,” said Rep. Taylor. “This bipartisan bill will help heal painful wounds by finally giving the victims of these heinous crimes and their families the long-awaited recognition they deserve.”

"One of the most depressing experiences I’ve had in the last couple of years is visiting The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s deeply disturbing that American communities across this country essentially condoned hate-filled murder, and it wasn’t all that long ago,” said Rep. Moulton. "Near the end of the memorial, I spoke with a black mother with two young kids, and I said, 'I can’t imagine how you explain this to your children.' We have a lot of work to do as a country to atone for these crimes and their legacy of oppression through discriminatory voting rights, unfair housing policy, and unjust criminal sentencing. This bill is a small step in the right direction.”

“While we cannot undo the injustices of the past, we can ensure that those committing this terroristic crime in the future will be sentenced accordingly,” said Rep. Bacon. “Over 100 years ago, lawless and angry mobs in Omaha murdered Will Brown and George Smith by lynching and burning their bodies. I’m thankful to Reps. Moulton and Taylor for joining me in this rightful redress of those barbaric lynchings so we can reflect the words written on Will Brown’s tombstone, ‘Lest We Forget’.”

Dating back to 1918, there have been 200 failed attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation and now is the time to for Congress to right this shameful failure to criminalize this act. It is an instrument of terror and intimidation. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched in the U.S. between 1882 and 1968 of various ethnicities, the majority being African-American.

The complete text of H.R. 1727 the Emmett Till and Will Brown Justice for Victims of Lynching Act can be found here.
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