In 1900, Rep. George Henry White introduced the first anti-lynching bill in Congress. It took 122 years for lynching to officially become a recognized hate crime under federal law. The long-awaited legislation bears the name of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman.
Along with public recognition of America's past and present lynching crimes, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act gives federal prosecutors and judges another tool to fight hate crimes.
Current law. Under current federal law, a person commits a hate crime by harming, kidnapping, sexually abusing, or attempting to kill someone because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. A person convicted under the law faces up to 10 years in prison. A life sentence applies if the crime resulted in death or involved kidnapping, sexual abuse, or attempted homicide.
New law. The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act creates a 30-year felony for anyone who conspires to commit a hate crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The conspiracy language points to the mob mentality of lynching crimes. It allows federal prosecutors to charge any individual who participated in the conspiracy regardless of their role in the completed crime.
Signed into law: March 29, 2022