Biden makes the 'pure terror' of lynching a federal crime

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Updated: Mar 30, 2022, 09:38 AM(IST)

(File photo) Joe Biden Photograph:( Reuters )

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Earlier this month the Senate had unanimously passed this bill. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that the long delay has proven to be 'a stain on America'

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime, putting an end to more than a century of delays in criminalising the symbol of what he called "pure terror."

The new law will punish anyone convicted of lynching for up to 30 years, ending what researchers say was an unbroken history of impunity over the thousands of lynchings that took place between the end of the Civil War and 1950.

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The bill is named after the tragically murdered 14-year-old black teen Bill Emmett Till, who sparked the civil rights movement during the 1950s.

President Biden was joined at the Rose Garden ceremony by Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first Black female vice president, and Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of anti-lynching activist and pioneering Black journalist Ida B. Wells.

Biden said lynching was "pure terror," noting the horrific practice of killing mostly black Americans in public, often in front of enthusiastic white crowds in the post-slavery United States.

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However, Biden warned that "racial hate isn't an old problem, it's a persistent problem," stating that "hate never goes away, it only hides."

VP Harris also warned that "lynching is not a relic of the past."

"Racial acts of terror still occur in our nation," she said. 

Earlier this month the Senate had unanimously passed this bill. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that the long delay has proven to be "a stain on America".

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In August 1955, Bill Emmett Till was abducted and murdered while visiting relatives in the US southern state of Mississippi. The mutilated body of the teenager was discovered three days later in a nearby river.

This was in response to a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, alleging that he had propositioned her in a store and touched her on the arm, hand, and waist. 

The mother of Till famously demanded that her son's remains be displayed in an open casket so that everyone could see what had been done.

A white Mississippi jury acquitted two men charged with murder, Roy Bryant, Carolyn Bryant's husband, and J W Milam, his half-brother. Later, the pair admitted that they had killed the boy in a magazine interview.

(WIth inputs from agencies)

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