Proposed federal law long in coming

The media has been so involved covering the impeachment proceedings they have missed important pending legislation.

When the term “lynching” was used and the reaction was so strong I decided to find out more specific information. The numbers were high and not restricted to African Americans. Whites in the old South were lynched because they, like blacks, didn’t support the local politicians. In the old West, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Italians, Germans and Fins were lynched.

I was shocked when I found out there is no federal law against lynching. In 1918 the first Dyer Anti-Lynching Act was introduced in the House. It was the first anti-lynching act of nearly 200 such bills to be filibustered out of existence or just plain ignored.

Between 1890 and 1950 seven presidents requested Congress to pass anti-lynching legislation. On June 30, 2018, Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-Calif.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act (5-3178) to make lynching a federal hate crime.

On Dec. 19, 2018, the Act was passed unanimously by the Senate. It wasn’t sent to the House. On Feb.e 14, 2019, the bill was reread three times and passed by voice vote without amendment. It was sent to the House Judiciary Committee as Senate Bill S-488. On March 22, 2019, S-488 Justice for Victims of Lynching Act was sent to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

On Jan. 3, 2019, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (HR-35) was introduced to the House and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. It was sent to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security the same day. On Sept. 31, 2019, HR-35 was placed on the Union Calendar No. 212.

Apparently the two bills became HR-3536 Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019. Representative Don Bacon (R-NE-2) introduced the Act on June 27, 2019. This bill is an amendment to Title 18, U.S. Code to specify lynching as a deprivation of civil rights and for other purposes. It was sent to the subcommittee on July 30, 2019. According to congress.gov it is still there.

HR-3536 could die there like the previous nearly 200 anti-lynching bills. I was surprised Senators Harris and Booker never mentioned this legislation during the presidential campaign. I worry the bill will not be sent to the president for signature into law because of the intense political game playing that is going on.

I strongly urge my fellow citizens to go online to congress.gov and track the status of the proposed laws.

You should write or email your senators and representatives with your thoughts and concerns.

Rodney T. Cooke