Obama signs ‘Emmett Till Act’ to reopen unsolved civil rights cases

With just weeks left in office, President Barack Obama signed the “Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016,” expanding the responsibilities of the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate and prosecute criminal civil rights violations that occurred before 1980 and resulted in a death.

The bill is an expansion of a previous bill of the same name that was passed by the House of Representatives in 2007.

According to a White House summary, the bill calls on the DOJ and FBI to support the “full accounting of all victims whose deaths or disappearances were the result of racially motivated crimes” and “hold accountable under federal and state law individuals who were perpetrators of, or accomplices in, unsolved civil rights murders and disappearances.”

The bill also requires the federal agencies to meet regularly with civil rights organizations, institutions of higher education, and DOJ-designated entities to coordinate information sharing and discuss the status of DOJ’s Emmett Till Act work.

The agencies must also keep families regularly informed about the status of the investigations.