Senate unanimously votes to make lynching a federal hate crime

It was a long time coming, but a change finally came on Wednesday when the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make lynching a federal hate crime, The Huffington Post reports.

“Lynching is a dark and despicable aspect of our nation’s history,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted after the vote. “We must acknowledge that fact lest we repeat it.”


Harris was one of three African-American members, along with Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) who sponsored the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act.

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“Today, we have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history,” Booker said in a statement following the vote.


The senators first introduced the bill in June, and in October at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, it received unanimous support.

“From 1882 to 1986 there have been 200 attempts that have failed to get Congress to pass federal anti-lynching legislation, it’s time for that to change,” Senator Harris previously wrote.

According to Countable the bill “would make lynching a federal crime that automatically warrants an enhanced sentence under existing federal hate crime statutes punishable by up to life imprisonment.”

It also recognizes the nearly 5,000 people who were lynched on U.S. soil between 1882 and 1968. According to the NY Times, there were almost 200 anti-lynching bills that were introduced in Congress from 1882 to 1986, but none passed.

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As recently as April 2018, two African-American men, Jarron Moreland, and Alize Smith, were brutally killed, dismembered and chained to cinderblocks by their white neighbors, in an act considered by many to be a modern day lynching.

“Literally thousands of African-Americans were being lynched throughout history, and the Senate never stepped up to pass any legislation to stop this heinous, despicable behavior,” Booker told the Times earlier this year.