Scott, Booker Introduce Legislation to Make Lynching a Federal Crime

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Scott and Booker, along with then-Senator Kamala Harris, first launched their effort to make lynching a federal crime in 2018.

Named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was brutally lynched in 1955, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act would amend the United States Code to specify that lynching is a crime that warrants an enhanced sentence under existing federal hate crime statues.

“While we cannot erase our nation’s past, we can work toward a better future for all Americans,” said Sen. Scott. “The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act will do just that. This long-overdue piece of legislation sends a clear message: We will not tolerate hatred and violence against our fellow Americans.”

“Between 1936 and 1938, the national headquarters of the NAACP hung a flag with the words ‘A man was lynched yesterday’, a solemn reminder of the reality Black Americans experienced daily during some of the darkest chapters of America’s history,” said Sen. Booker. “Used by white supremacists to oppress and subjugate Black communities, lynching is a form of racialized violence that has permeated much of our nation’s past and must now be reckoned with. To that end, I am proud to introduce this legislation to help us acknowledge the pain caused by lynchings and make the shameful practice a federal crime. Although this bill will not undo the terror and fear of the past, it’s a necessary step that our nation must take to move forward.”

In 2019, Scott, Booker, and then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) led unanimous passage of an earlier version of the legislation on the Senate floor, marking a historic step towards the first federal anti-lynching law in the United States.

Full text of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act can be found here.