WASHINGTON, March 30 – President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the first state law to commit hateful crimes, addressing the history of genocide in the United States, after Senate passed the bill earlier this month.
The law was named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. .
Till’s death, along with the withdrawal of a white team from the charges against the two white men who later confessed to his assassination, drew international attention to the brutality and violence faced by African Americans in the United States and became a cry for civil rights.
With the signing of the bill, the president was referring to “unfinished business” and “shock” in American history, said Deputy President Kamala Harris at the White House Rose Garden after the bill was signed.
Harris, the first black and American vice president of Asia, sponsored the bill while serving as a member of the U.S. Senate from California.
“Lynching is not a remnant of the past. Terrorist acts continue in our nation. And when they do, we must all have the courage to confess and blame the perpetrators,” he said.
In August, the FBI said the number of hate crimes in the United States had risen sharply last year to a record high over a decade, due to an increase in attacks on black and Asian victims.
Biden, who was helped by his Black voters’ support for him to run for president, said the law was not just about dealing with past crimes.
“It’s about the present and our future as well,” he said, referring to the 2017 white supremacist conference in Virginia. “Racial hatred is not an old problem. It is an ongoing problem.”
The bill passed with the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives by a vote of 422-3.