Press Release

ADL Applauds Senate Passage of Anti-Lynching Bill; Urges Prompt House Approval

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Washington, D.C., February 14, 2019 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) applauds the U.S. Senate for unanimously approving S.488, the “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019” which would, for the first time, make lynching a federal crime. While lynching has disproportionately impacted African Americans over the course of history, many other marginalized groups have been victims of lynching due to religious bigotry, xenophobia, and otherization.

ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement welcoming the legislation:

Since the 1880s, Congress has tried and failed over 200 times to pass anti-lynching legislation.  We welcome Senate approval today of this important legislation and commend the leadership of Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC) in moving this measure forward. The House of Representatives must now act promptly to approve this historic measure and send it to the President to sign.

The passage of a federal anti-lynching bill has special resonance for ADL. In 1913, the same year ADL was founded, Leo Frank, a Jewish factory owner in Atlanta, was wrongly convicted of rape and murder of one of his young employees, following a trial rife with anti-Semitism. In August 1915, Frank was forcibly taken from his cell and lynched in Marietta, Georgia by a mob of local citizens, including many prominent community leaders.

For more information on the lynching of Leo Frank, see Remembering Leo Frank and A Century Later, Leo Frank Tragedy Still Resonates.