Senators on Wednesday unanimously voted to approve a bill making lynching a federal crime.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said the Senate had previously failed nearly 200 times to make lynching a "federal civil rights crime." The bill, if approved by the House and signed by President Trump, would make lynching punishable by life in prison, reports The Washington Times.
"This is a very meaningful moment for this body," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). "Even though it cannot reverse irrevocable harm that lynching was used as a terror of suppression, the passage of this bill is a recognition of that dark past." Senators reportedly said that more than 4,700 people were lynched in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968, most of them black, and most perpetrators left unpunished. Harris, Booker, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the bill.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who faced criticism after saying last month she would attend a "public hanging," presided over the bill's debate on the Senate floor.
The Senate apologized in 2005 for its failures to stop lynching in its heyday, citing "powerful Southern senators, such as Richard B. Russell Jr. (D-Ga.)" for shutting down legislation. A Senate office building is still named after Russell, and a proposal to rename it after the late Sen. John McCain has stalled amid Sen. David Purdue (R-Ga.)'s opposition. Read more at The Washington Times. Summer Meza