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Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill to Reopen Civil Rights Cases

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President Obama signed legislation this month that further allows the Department of Justice and the FBI to reopen unsolved civil rights crimes.

According to The Huffington Post, the Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 grants agencies access to pursue crimes committed before 1980. The act is an expansion of a previous bill that was signed into law in 2008.

The original bill was named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who was kidnapped and brutally tortured by two White men after allegedly whistling at a White woman in 1955. It was first introduced by activist Alvin Sykes in 2005.

After the two men were acquitted, Sykes promised Till’s mother he’d pursue her son’s case. As part of his continued mission, Sykes named the bill after the teen boy.

The FBI has investigated more than 100 cold cases since the bill’s introduction. The updated act encourages the agencies to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”

The law also calls for “the full accounting of all victims whose deaths or disappearances were the result of racially-motivated crimes.”

A summary of the law states that the Justice Department and FBI will keep families regularly informed about the status of the investigations and make case information available to the public.


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