Washington - The American Civil Liberties Union praised the Senate Judiciary Committee today for passing S. 535, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act out of committee. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the companion bill, H.R. 923.
This long-awaited legislation would promote the investigation and prosecution of unsolved civil rights cases by establishing a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) who would work with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to focus on clearing these cases.
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act is an important step towards finally closing an ugly chapter in American history, a time when crimes against civil rights activists and African-Americans were routinely swept under the rug. This bill upholds the integrity of the judicial system and ensures that those guilty of civil rights crimes will finally be held accountable. We are encouraged that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees voted in favor of the bill, and we strongly urge their colleagues to do the same when it comes to the floor. It is never too late for justice to prevail for the victims of these unsolved crimes and their families."
The bill is named for, and highlights the life of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American teenager from Chicago, who was brutally murdered in 1955. Till was beaten, shot in the head, and dumped in a river allegedly by two white men. The reported rationale for Till’s murder was that he whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi, where Till was visiting with relatives.