After around 200 failed attempts over at least 100 years, a bill to make lynching a federal crime has finally passed the Senate. The bipartisan bill, which was introduced in July, passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday, the Hill reports. It was sponsored by Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott—three of the 10 African-American senators in US history. The bill defines lynching as "willfully, acting as part of any collection of people, assembled for the purpose and with the intention of . . . [causing] death to any person" and makes it a hate crime punishable by up to life in prison, the Washington Post reports. The bill also criminalizes attempts to lynch and conspiracy to lynch.
The NAACP says at least 3,446 black people were among more than 4,700 people lynched between 1882 and 1968, mostly in the South. "This has been a long arc, a painful history, and a shameful history in this body," Booker said on the Senate floor. "At the height of lynchings across this country affecting thousands of people, this body did not act to make that a federal crime." Harris described lynching as "a dark and despicable aspect of our nation’s history." It's not clear whether the House will pass the bill and send it to President Trump before the Christmas holiday, the AP reports. (Last year, a Mississippi lawmaker called for lynchings as Confederate statues came down.)