Kamala Harris and Cory Booker gave an emotional speech in response to Republican Sen. Rand Paul single-handedly blocking a bill that would make lynching a federal crime.
Is there really any reason for lynching to be legal? Was there ever a reason? No. But for some reason, on the day that George Floyd was laid to rest, Rand Paul decided to decline a bill that would make lynching a federal crime.
During a floor speech, Paul argued that the Emmett Till Anti Lynching Act, which was already passed in the House, does not “take lynching seriously.” He went on to say that that the bill defines lynching “so broadly as to include a minor bruise or abrasion.” He suggested changing it to deem lynching as lynching only if it caused “serious bodily injury resulting in substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain.”
Harris, who introduced the bill in the Senate, along with the two other Black Senators, Booker, and Tim Scott, clapped back at Paul’s inconsiderate stance. Harris and Booker are Democrats while Scott is a Republican. Harris called Paul’s comments, “ridiculous.” “That we would not be taking the issue of lynching seriously is an insult, an insult to Sen. Booker, an insult to Sen. Tim Scott and myself, and all of the senators past and present who have understood this is part of the great stain of America’s history,” she said.
Harris, visibly upset, continued “to suggest that anything short of pulverizing someone so much that the casket would otherwise be closed except for the heroism and courage of Emmett Till’s mother; to suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone’s heart was pulled out, reduced and displayed to someone else is ridiculous.” She went on to say Paul’s amendment suggestion “would place a greater burden on victims of lynching than is currently required under federal hate crimes laws.”
Sen. Booker also shared his piece on Paul’s choice. “I’m so raw today. Of all days, we are doing this. Of all days, we are doing this right now.” He continued, “I do not need my colleague, the senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one more lynching in this country. I have stood in the museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and watched African American families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country, and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing.”
Booker ended his speech by saying, “I object to this amendment. I object, I object. I object on substance, I object on the law, and for my heart and spirit and every fiber of my being, I object for my ancestors.” Before 1950, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills have been pitched to Congress, when the violent act was at its highest. Still, Congress has not made lynching a federal crime.