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Biden signs landmark anti-lynching bill into law, but one GA Congressman voted no

President Joe Biden, flanked by guests and elected officials, signs the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law
The White House
President Joe Biden, flanked by guests and elected officials, signs the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law

President Joe Biden signed an anti-lynching bill into law Tuesday, and while the bill saw overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, one Georgia Representative voted no.

District 9’s Andrew Clyde, who currently represents a portion of Athens-Clarke County was one of just three Congressmen, all Republicans, who voted no on H.R. 55, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act earlier this month. The other seven Republicans from Georgia in the US House voted for the bill, as did all six Democrats from Georgia. The bill passed the US Senate by unanimous consent.

In a statement, Clyde explained his vote against the measure by calling the bill “duplicative,” and noting that people who commit a lynching already face serious criminal charges.

The first antilynching bill was proposed in Congress over a century ago, and more than 200 attempts to pass an antilynching bill have failed in that time.

REP. CLYDE ISSUES STATEMENT ON H.R. 55 Washington, March 1, 2022 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Andrew Clyde (GA-09) issued the following statement regarding his vote on H.R. 55, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act: “Lynching is an evil act of violence that is already against the law at the federal level; it is first-degree murder. Furthermore, my home state of Georgia recently signed hate crime legislation into law this past year. H.R. 55 would create no new federal offense and the current hate crime criminal code already establishes penalties for willful bodily injury to another person. Simply put, we do not need another duplicative federal law. Carving out a separate distinction for lynching may be symbolic, but it falsely suggests that individuals who commit, or attempt to commit, a lynching do not already face criminal charges and consequences. No matter the method or tool used in a horrendous act of violence, all victims of crime deserve equal justice.”

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.