Emmett Till: US Congress makes history and makes lynching a federal crime | International

Congressman Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, speaks about the law named after the 1955 slain teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi in a file photo.
Congressman Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, speaks about the law named after the 1955 slain teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi in a file photo.J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

The law is already on the table in the Oval Office of President Joe Biden for his signature. One hundred years and more than 200 failed attempts later, the United States Congress has unanimously approved the law that makes lynching a federal crime. The law is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was kidnapped and lynched in 1955 in the southern state of Mississippi. This law comes too late for Till’s family, who searched for justice for more than 66 years and did not find it. Last December, the Department of Justice definitively shelved the savage lynching, since the Prosecutor’s Office considered that there was not enough evidence to file charges, three years after the case was reopened after the confession of a witness who said she had lied before the jury that exonerated the two white men who tortured the young man to death.

“After more than 100 years and more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, the Senate has taken the long-awaited step of passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” he said. the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer. “This is a great step, but the fact that it has taken so long is a stain on the United States,” he remarked on his Twitter account. The Senate approved the rule unanimously on Monday night, after it was adopted by the House of Representatives last week.

The law will punish lynchings with up to 30 years in prison, “the execution without due process and in a mob of a suspect or an inmate”, something that happened for racist reasons in the south of the country on thousands of occasions until they began to decrease after the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

The regulation makes lynching a “hate crime” for federal authorities, a separate category of criminal offenses in which the victims have in common that they have been attacked because of their real or perceived membership of a racial group or of a religion, or because of their sexual identity or their disability. In 1900, then the only black US congressman, George Henry White, introduced the first bill to criminalize lynching, which failed, as did 200 other attempts over the next 121 years.

No one spent a single day in jail or paid in any other way for Till’s cruel and heartless death at the hands of Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, JW Milam, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, JW Milam, both deceased and who confessed to their crime after a jury of 12 white men acquitted them of guilt. All Till did, according to his relatives, was whistle as a compliment to Carolyn Bryant Donham, in a country where segregation was official and a black child could not speak to a white child.

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Till was in Mississippi visiting relatives and had come from Chicago. The young man’s mother, Mamie Bradley, demanded at the time that the mutilated corpse of her son be transferred to that city and exposed in an open coffin, so that the country could see the result of racism in the unrecognizable face of the teenager. Mamie Bradley’s determination made it possible for one of the thousands of lynchings that existed between 1870 and the 1960s (more than 4,000) to put American society in front of the uncomfortable mirror of racism. Till’s sadistic death was a spur to the birth of the civil rights movement, which ended the legal segregation of blacks in the US But the death of Emmett Till continues and will continue forever without guilt.

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