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3 Black Senators introduce bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Carol Ozemhoya| OW Contributor | 7/3/2018, 9:56 a.m.
Sen. Kamala Harris (California), Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Tim Scott (South Carolina) introduced a bill...

Sen. Kamala Harris (California), Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Tim Scott (South Carolina) introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate on Friday, June 29, that would make lynching a federal hate crime, reports the New York Times. Yes, it is 2018, and this is just happening. The Senate bill comes two weeks after a similar bill was introduced into the House of Representatives. Here’s the interesting thing; nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress from 1882 until 1986… and none passed. “This sends a very powerful message,” said Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, who introduced the Senate bill along with Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, and Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican. “Literally thousands of African-Americans were being lynched throughout history, and the Senate never stepped up to pass any legislation to stop this heinous, despicable behavior.” A lynching conviction would carry a punishment of up to life in prison, in addition to punishment administered from a murder conviction. “In the course of a crime there can be multiple charges,” Booker said in a phone interview with the Times. “This bill will make lynching another charge on top of murder.” According to the Times, 16 other senators, including Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont; Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat; and Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, have signed on as co-sponsors. The bill also has the support of the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. “I thought we did that many years ago,” McConnell said in an interview on Sirius XM. “I hadn’t thought about it, I thought that was done back during L.B.J. or some period like that.” The bill comes nearly 100 years after Leonidas Dyer, a United States representative from Missouri, introduced anti-lynching legislation. In 2005 the Senate agreed to apologize to the victims and the descendants of the victims of lynching for its failure to enact anti-lynching legislation.