WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate impasse over a widely backed bill to designate lynching as a federal hate crime boiled over on Thursday in an emotional debate cast against a backdrop of widespread protests over police treatment of African Americans.
Raw feelings were evident as Sen. Rand Paul — who is single-handedly holding up the bill despite letting it pass last year — sought changes to the legislation as a condition of allowing it to pass.
But the Senate's two black Democrats, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, protested, saying the measure should pass as is. The debate occurred as a memorial service was taking place for George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, sparking the protests that have convulsed the nation.
The legislative effort to make lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to life in prison comes 65 years after 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi, and follows dozens of failed attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation.