Senate passes anti-lynching legislation

WASHINGTON (WCBD) – The United States Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the ‘Justice for Victims of Lynching Act,’ legislation that would criminalize lynching for the first time in U.S. history.

According to a press release from Sen. Tim Scott’s office, the legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Scott, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.

The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act passed the Senate by unanimous consent back in December of 2018, marking the first-time federal anti-lynching legislation had been passed by the Senate in American history.

“Today, the Senate sent a strong signal that this nation will not stand for the hate and violence spread by those with evil in their hearts,” said Sen. Scott. “I look forward to this important legislation ended up on the President’s desk for signature.”

Sen. Booker, who has announced his bid for president, said, “Lunching is not a relic of a painful past – it is a present and pernicious evil that we still have yet to confront. Today’s Senate passage is a historic step towards acknowledging a long and painful history and codifying into law our commitment to confronting bias-motivated acts of terror.”

He went on to say, “I urge the House of Representative to take up this bill so that after over 100 years and 200 attempts, we can finally make lynching a federal crime.”

Sen. Harris, who has also announced a bid for president in 2020, said in part, “Lunching were acts of violence—they were horrendous acts of violence, and they were motivated by racism. With this bill, we finally have a chance to speak the truth about our past and make clear that these hateful acts should never happen again.”

Data from the Equal Justice Initiative shows lynching was used as an instrument of terror and intimidation 4,084 times during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

From 1882-1986, Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation 200 times.