President Biden signed legislation on Tuesday that designates lynching as a federal hate crime, marking a long-awaited victory for civil rights activists and advocates for the oppressed.
“Hundreds of similar bills have been introduced and failed to get passage. As time has passed, various federal hate crime legislation has been passed… However,
there was no federal legislation — no federal law that specifically forbade lynching. None. “Until today,” Biden said to a standing ovation.
According to Vice President Biden, civil rights leaders and legislators have been trying for more than 100 years to establish legislation designating lynching as a hate crime.
“Lynching is a distinctively American weapon of racial fear,” President Barack Obama said of the practice.
It is named after Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 and following open-casket funeral served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Lynching is classified as a hate crime under the law, and it is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
“The law does not only concern itself with the past. In addition to our current, it is also about our future, “Biden made the statement.
According to Biden, “from the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to many more acts of violence, countless victims known and unknown,
the same racial hatred that led the mob to hang a noose brought that mob bearing torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years ago,” “Racial prejudice is not a new phenomenon. It’s a problem that continues to persist.”
Biden was accompanied by civil rights leaders and members of Congress, including Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who was the primary author of the bill in the House of Representatives.
A version of the measure that Vice President Harris co-sponsored when serving in the Senate was also signed in the Rose Garden by President Obama and Vice President Clinton.
Harris, who is the first woman and the first woman of colour to serve as Vice President, called lynching a “stain on the history of our nation.” Harris is the first woman and the first woman of colour to serve as Vice President.
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“Lynching is not a thing of the past,” she stated emphatically. “Racial acts of terror continue to take place in our country. Then we must all have the fortitude to name them and make those responsible for their actions account for their actions.”
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only two African-American senators, were acknowledged by Biden and Harris for their contributions to the passage of the law.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected to the law being passed by unanimous consent in the Senate after it cleared the House of Representatives the year before in 2020.
According to the rules of the chamber, any one senator can attempt to pass a bill, but anyone senator can object.
The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate earlier this month, which means that every senator agreed that it should move forward.