US President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law this week, making lynching a federal hate crime for the first time in American history.
The law is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was tortured and killed by two white men in Mississippi in 1955.
“Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal,” the president said at the White House after signing the bill.
“Racial hate isn’t an old problem. It’s a persistent problem. Hate never goes away. It only hides. All of us have to stop it.”
Earlier this month, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent and the House of Representatives by a vote of 422 with only 3 congressmen voting against it.
The Emmett Till Act makes it possible to prosecute as a hate crime any conspiracy to commit a lynching that results in death or serious bodily injury.
The law defines ‘hate crimes’ as “offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.”