The legislation, sponsored by African-American senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), would make lynching a federal hate crime and carry a tougher sentence similar to other hate crimes, per reports.
Lynching is a dark and despicable aspect of our nation’s history,” tweeted Harris. “We must acknowledge that fact, lest we repeat it.”
Lynching is a dark and despicable aspect of our nation’s history. We must acknowledge that fact, lest we repeat it. Thank you to my colleagues for agreeing to unanimously pass our Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, and @CoryBooker and @SenatorTimScott for your partnership.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 19, 2018
According to the bill, anyone found guilty of lynching is “willfully, acting as part of any collection of people, assembled for the purpose and with the intention of … (causing) death to any person.”
The practice was mostly coming in the late 19th/early 20th century in the United States and often targeted the country’s Black population, with 73 percent of people lynched being African-America, according to the NAACP, which recorded 4,743 lynchings between 1881 and 1968.
“This has been a long arc, a painful history and a shameful history in this body,” said Sen. Booker on the Senate floor. “At the height of lynchings across this country affecting thousands of people, this body did not act to make that a federal crime… at least now, the United States Senate has now acted. One hundred senators, no objections.”
The House of Representatives still need to vote on the bill and it is unclear when it will take up the measure.
This was a historical year for restorative justice strides in the United States. In this 3-part series, EBONY examines America’s history of lynching and recent strides to right wrongs.