This month, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that classifies lynchings as a federal hate crime, and the bill was sponsored by the Senate’s three African American members: Republican Tim Scott and Democrats Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
The bill was introduced by the three senators, and both Harris and Booker are rumored to be presidential nominees in 2020 when President Donald Trump runs for reelection.
Harris also pointed out that there have been 200 previous attempts by congress to label lynchings as a federal crime, but they have been to no avail. She tweeted that “Lynching is a dark and despicable aspect of our nation’s history. We must acknowledge that fact, lest we repeat it.”
Speaking on the bipartisan effort, Booker took to the Senate floor to share his thoughts on the matter, saying that “This has been a long arc, a painful history and a shameful history in this body. At the height of lynchings across this country affecting thousands of people, this body did not act to make that a federal crime… At least now, the United State Senate has now acted. One hundred senators, no objections.”
Florida Senators Marco Rubio voted in favor, and, outgoing Senator, Bill Nelson voted in favor as well.
Tim Scott commented on the passing of the bill, explaining that he was “glad the Senate passed this important bill” and saying that he is “hopeful the House will do the same.” In addition, Scott also said it “is important we send a signal to those with hate in their hearts that we will not tolerate these heinous actions.”
Specifically, the bill titled the “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018” defines lynchings as a “willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person.” The bill also explains that if two or more people are convicted of killing a person due to their “actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin,” that they will be sentenced to up to life in prison. Also, if the victim experiences any “bodily harm,” then the perpetrators will face no less than 10 years in prison.