House passes anti-lynching bill named for Emmett Till

Emmett Till was kidnapped and killed by four white men in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. File Photo courtesy of Rep. Bobby Rush

Feb. 27 (UPI) — The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would making lynching a federal hate crime more than a century after such legislation was first proposed.

The chamber voted 410-4 in favor of the Emmett TillEmmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, named in honor of the 14-year-old slain in 1955 by four white men who were later acquitted of the crime.

The four lawmakers who voted against the act were Reps. Justin Amash, I-Mich., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Thomas Massie, R-W.Va., and Ted Yoho, R-Minn.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill, who sponsored the bill, called the vote “black history in the making.” Till’s death happened in Chicago, in Rush’s congressional district.

“With the passage of this bill we correct a historical injustice, based on a lie, that took the life of this young man,” Rush said in a statement. “We also bring justice to the over 4,000 victims of lynching, most of them African Americans, who have had their lives tragically, and horrifically cut short at the hands of racist mobs and hate-filled hordes.

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“After 120 years, and 200 failed attempts, the House finally positions itself on the right side of history, outlawing the heinous act of lynching once and for all.”

Under the language of the legislation, it would become a federal hate crime for a group of people to kill a person as a tactic to instill fear in a community.

Rush said the legislation was expected to pass the Senate by the end of the week.

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