Congress' three African-American senators introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to make lynching a federal crime.
Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., drafted the bipartisan legislation, which defines the crime as "the willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person." It also classifies lynching as a hate crime that would warrant enhanced sentences.
"Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our history, and we must acknowledge that, lest we repeat it," Harris said in the statement about the bill on Friday.
The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 notes that during the first half of the 20th century nearly 200 attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation failed to gain support from the Senate despite urging from seven sitting presidents.
It also cites statistics supported by research compiled by Tuskegee University, that more than 4,700 people were lynched between the years 1882 and 1968. About three-quarters of the victims were African-American. And according to the bill, "99 percent of all perpetrators of lynching escaped from punishment by state or local officials."