U.S. HOUSE MUST NOW PASS THIS CRUCIAL, BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO INVESTIGATE MURDERS COMMITTED DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA FOR IT TO GO TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TO BECOME LAW
Due to our Nation’s sorry history of bigotry, racism and hatred, as many as 4,000 racially suspicious murders were committed in this country prior to 1950, and few attempts to prosecute them were ever pursued. To correct some of these past wrongs, in 2008 Congress passed the Emmett Till Reauthorization Act, which created a special division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to re-open and attempt to resolve these cases.
Just before leaving for its six week break away from Washington, on July 14, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed, unanimously and with strong bipartisan work and support, the NAACP-supported S. 2854, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016. S. 2854 was sponsored and introduced by Senators Richard Burr (NC), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Claire McCaskill (MO) and Roy Blunt (MO). The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is joined by companion legislation, H.R. 5067, which was introduced by Congressmen John Lewis (GA), John Conyers, Jr. (MI) and F. James Sensenbrenner (WI).
This vital legislation responds to the concerns of families, advocates, and academics who have closely followed the Federal, State, and local efforts to investigate and when possible prosecute crimes which were racially motivated and have been closed without a conviction. This common-sense reauthorization will help DOJ to better coordinate its investigations and prosecutions with the FBI and local authorities and will address gaps in the previous bill and the existing program regardless of when the crime occurred. Most notably, the current bill clarifies and expands the process for transparency and collaboration between all stakeholders in the shared pursuit of justice.