The House nearly unanimously passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022, which makes lynching a hate crime.
But 3 House Republicans voted against the bill when it came up for a vote on Monday night.
Rep. Thomas Massie said the bill would "endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech."
The House of Representatives passed an anti-lynching bill on a near-unanimous basis on Monday, with just three House Republicans voting against the measure.
Republican Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas, and Andrew Clyde of Georgia voted against the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act of 2022, which would designate lynching — extrajudicial killings typically committed against Black Americans, particularly during the Jim Crow era — as a federal hate crime.
Congress has never before codified lynching as a hate crime.
The bill is named for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager who was kidnapped and brutally murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955. Till's mother insisted that her son be given an open-casket funeral, images of which revealed how savagely he'd been murdered and provoked widespread outrage.
"I was eight years old when my mother put the photograph of Emmett Till's brutalized body that ran in Jet magazine on our living room coffee table, pointed to it, and said, 'this is why I brought my boys out of Albany, Georgia,'" said Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, the lead sponsor of the bill, in a statement.
He added, "That photograph shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America, changed the course of my life, and changed our nation. But modern-day lynchings like the murder of Ahmaud Arbery make abundantly clear that the racist hatred and terror that fueled the lynching of Emmett Till are far too prevalent in America to this day."
Last week, the three white Georgia men who killed Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging through their neighborhood in 2020 were convicted on federal hate crime charges.
Rep. Massie explained his vote against the bill in a Tweet thread on Monday evening, arguing the legislation would "endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech."
—Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 1, 2022
Rep. Roy issued a statement on Tuesday clarifying that he was not supportive of lynching, but said the bill "doesn't have anything to do with lynching" and instead promotes "a woke agenda."
"[The bill] simply raises the punishment for things that are already federal crimes, including those that are unrelated to lynching — such as gender identity — in an effort to advance a woke agenda under the guise of correcting racial injustice," said Roy. "As much as I favor harsher penalties for violent offenders, this is a matter for the states and I will not vote for legislative deception."
Rep. Clyde, who has also racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fines for refusing to wear a mask on the House floor, did not issue a statement about his vote. Several hours after Insider reached out to Clyde for comment, he told Insider that he voted against the bill because lynching is already de-facto illegal.
"Lynching is an evil act of violence that is already against the law at the federal level; it is first-degree murder," said Clyde. "Simply put, we do not need another duplicative federal law. Carving out a separate distinction for lynching may be symbolic, but it falsely suggests that individuals who commit, or attempt to commit, a lynching do not already face criminal charges and consequences."
The House also passed a similar bill in 2020, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky blocked its consideration in the Senate, arguing that lynching prosecutions should be limited to "crimes resulting in substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain." Paul issued a statement on Monday saying he'd worked with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Tim Scott on the proposal and that he was now "glad to cosponsor this bipartisan effort" and is not expected to block the bill again.
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