July 25, 2024

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100 years later, lynching is a hate crime in the US |  News

100 years later, lynching is a hate crime in the US | News

UpdateAfter more than 100 years of political debate, lynching is now classified as a hate crime in the United States. President Joe Biden signed a law to that effect on Tuesday. The new law prescribes penalties of up to 30 years in lynching cases in which the victim is seriously injured or dies.

Congress has been trying for more than a hundred years to recognize indiscriminate murder as a separate crime at the federal level. This political debate has now come to an end. Earlier this month, nearly the entire Senate voted in favor of the bill.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic majority leader, said more than two hundred previous attempts at approval had preceded the bill’s signature. Schumer said he describes the law as a major step forward, although it cannot reverse the injustice suffered by tens of thousands of black Americans.

The law is named after Emmett Till. The black boy was kidnapped, beaten, and murdered in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14 after being accused of whistling a white woman.


Racism is not an old problem – it is an ongoing problem. Hate never goes away, it just hides.

US President Joe Biden

4000 fatal murders

At least 4,000 lynchings were reported in southern states between 1877 and 1950, according to the American civil rights organization Equal Justice. Most of the victims were African Americans who were hanged, burned alive, shot, or beaten to death by white people. The actual number of extrajudicial executions is probably much higher.

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Lynching was used, among other things, by the white population to impede the social progress of black Americans. After the public humiliation and death of the victims, their money and land were regularly robbed. Perpetrators can usually operate with impunity.

The new law is essentially a symbolic move to condemn the atrocities of the past. However, today there are also crimes that meet the definition of lynching and will therefore be prosecuted under the new law.

in broad daylight

Vice President Kamala Harris called the lynchings “a disgrace to the history of the United States,” but also emphasized that the law was not just a “relic of the past.” Racial hate crimes continue to occur in the United States today.

For example, the death of the black Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered by three white men in broad daylight in 2020 while jogging, is often seen as a contemporary example of a lynching. The perpetrators were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Racism is not an old problem – it is an ongoing problem. Hate never goes away,” President Biden said when signing the bill.

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