What is the anti-lynching bill?
Representative Leonida C. Dyer, Republican from St. Louis, Missouri, in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R., introduced the Dyer anti-lynching law for the first time in 1918. Lynching was meant as a federal offence. The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was reintroduced and passed in the United States during subsequent sessions of Congress. On 26 January 1922, the House of Representatives but its passage was stopped by a Southern Democrats filibuster which formed a powerful block in the Senate.
The Costigan-Wagner Bill of 1934 stopped the attempts to pass similar legislation. Then there were bills, but lynching was never banned by the US Congress because of heavy opposition by Southern senators. The Senate only adopted the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which did not take action by the House of Representatives, in 2018. The House approved a new version, the Anti-Lynching Act Emmett Till, in a 410–4 vote on February 26 2020.
Background of the Act
In the southern and border states Lynchings were primarily perpetrated by the whites against African Americans. In the United States, some 4,730 people were lynched, 3,437 were black and 1,293 were white, according to statistics compiled by the Tuskégee Institute from 1882 to 1951. The first wave of lynches took place in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. However, the first Ku Klux Klan fell sharply in 1870. Rebirth in the 1890s took place; the largest number of lynchings took place annually in 1892 (230 lynching people in 1892: 161 African Americans and 69 whites) and continued for the next two decades at relatively high levels, in what is often called the nadir of American race relations, a period marked by disfranchisement of African Americans and Jim Crow in the South, and discrimination against African Americans across the country.
On Thursday after the day of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) gave a fiery Senate floor speech on anti-lynching bill with wide bipartisana backing.
The bill, which was written by Sen. Harris, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J. and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), will make federal lynching a felony. However, in the month of February, the House called the draft ‘Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Law.’ This amendment reverted the bill to the Senate, where Paul hoped to add an amendment that would ensure that charges for minor injuries would not be brought.
“This bill would make lynching meaning cheaper by describing it to include a tiny blur or abrasion as wide as possible,” he said. “We demand more seriousness from our nation’s racial terrorism history than that.”
The Senate can have a roll-call vote on the law and pass it straight away, but Paul alone can stop it. GOP management does not plan to allocate time, which could allow Paul to delay the bill by exceedingly long reaching the desk of President Donald Trump. The bill would be returned to the House if Paul’s amendment was passed.
“The idea that we would not be taking the issue of lynching seriously is an insult, an insult to Senator Booker, to Senator Tim Scott and myself,” she said. “To suggest that anything short of pulverizing someone so much that the casket would otherwise be closed except for the heroism and courage of Emmett Till’s mother; to suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone’s heart was pulled out, reduced and displayed to someone else is ridiculous.”
The California senator went on to call Paul’s actions “cruel” and “deliberate” set against the backdrop of George Floyd’s memorial.
“There is no reason for this,” she said. “Sen. Paul’s amendment would place a greater burden on victims of lynching than is currently required under federal hate crimes laws. There is no reason for this. There is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning.”
Sen. Booker was equally offended.
“I do not need my colleague, the senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one lynching in this country,” he said. “I’ve stood in the museum in Montgomery, Ala., and watched African American families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing.”
What is the anti-lynching bill?