A month after President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, Assemblymen Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), and Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) introduced a resolution in the state Assembly in support of the new national law.
“We know that nothing will erase the fear instilled in black communities with every act of lynching committed,” McKnight said in a statement. “Passing and signing this legislation was a long-awaited acknowledgment of lives lost, past and present. In the future, heinous acts such as lynching against anyone because of their race, color or any other identifier will come with their own harsh punishment.
Named after the 14-year-old black boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955, the Emmett Till Act updates existing law to define lynching as a hate crime.
After being offered in various forms hundreds of times throughout the history of Congress, the act – which was sponsored by Cory Booker of New Jersey in the US Senate – eventually passed through Congress almost unanimously this winter and was signed by Biden in March.
“The lynchings were the ever-present threat of violence that sustained the lawless order of Jim Crow,” Schaer said. “Through this legislation, the United States is heeding the pain of the past and addressing the alarming increase in hate crimes to create a more equitable future.”