WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are demanding justice after recent killings of black Americans.
Calling the acts of violence like the ones that left George Floyd of Minneapolis and jogger Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia dead “modern-day lynchings,” they are demanding Congress move forward with making lynching a federal crime.
“It’s sad day in America,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said Friday.
Floyd, who was not armed, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck. That officer, who was fired earlier this week, was arrested Friday on murder and manslaughter charges.
“How do you explain this to our children?” Beatty wondered.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., called the death a “public execution in clear view.”
“It’s just devastating,” she said, adding that she understands why the people of Minneapolis have been so furious, leading to rioting and fires in the city. “I think people emotionally right now are feeling like, ‘When will this ever stop?'”
They said Congress must send a clear message to denounce racist violence by passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. It would make lynching, defined as a conspiracy to commit a hate crime, a federal offense.
“Make lynching a federal law that would make it a hate crime,” Beatty said.
“(It’s) the least we can do,” Bass agreed.
The act was approved by the Democrat-led House earlier this year, but has stalled in the Republican-led Senate. While the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pointed out that the Senate did pass an antilynching measure last year, it did not provide answers to if and when the upper chamber will vote on Emmett Till Antilynching Act.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., authored the House bill. He said if it becomes law, it would advance federal investigations into deaths like Floyd’s and Arbery’s.
“We’re under attack,” Rush said.
He said he’s now drafting new legislation that would focus on lynchings by police officers.
While President Donald Trump has called for federal investigations into Floyd’s death, saying it is “very much involved,” the Congressional Black Caucus said long-lasting change is needed.