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Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Tim Scott Introduce Bill That Would Make Lynching a Federal Crime

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June 30, 2018

The three African American members of the U.S. Senate—two Democrats and one Republican—have banded together to address one of the most heinous acts perpetrated against blacks for more than a century: lynching.  Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC) on Friday introduced “The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018” to make that willful, collective act of murder punishable as a federal crime, resulting in harsher sentencing under existing hate crime statutes.

In a released statement, the three legislators further explained the importance of the legislation and resistance to its passage in Congress. Asserts Sen. Harris: “Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our history, and we must acknowledge that, lest we repeat it. From 1882 to 1986 there have been 200 attempts that have failed to get Congress to pass federal anti-lynching legislation, it’s time for that to change.”

Sen. Booker says: “It’s a travesty that despite repeated attempts to do so, Congress still hasn’t put anti-lynching legislation on the books. This bill will right historical wrongs by acknowledging our country’s stained past and codifying into law our commitment to abolishing this shameful practice.”

Adds Sen. Scott: “This measure is certainly well past due and I am glad to be able to join in efforts that will underscore the severity of this crime. This piece of legislation sends a message that together, as a nation, we condemn the actions of those that try to divide us with violence and hate.”

The three also fully expect backing from the GOP-controlled Senate, citing in their official statement that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been recently asked about anti-lynching legislation and responded. “I certainly would support it.”  Moreover, they stated that a similar bill recently introduced in the House by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and 36 members of the Congressional Black Caucus serves as “a companion” to their measure.

This legislative action coincides with the unveiling of a new study from the NAACP revealing that racially-motivated “hate crimes totals rose for four straight years to the highest level in a decade.” making up nearly 60% of overall crimes with African American still representing the most targeted group.  Officials further believe there is “a direct relationship between the rise in hate crimes exemplified by the continual #LivingWhileBlack incidents and other reported crimes and President Donald J. Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and racist policies.”

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