Public Outcry Grows Over Senator Rand Paul’s Blocking of Anti-Lynching Bill

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the sole holdout in Congress on legislation that would, for the first time, recognize lynching as a federal crime

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is the single objector to a bill that would make lynching a federal crime - Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is the single objector to a bill that would make lynching a federal crime

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the sole holdout in Congress on legislation that would, for the first time, recognize lynching as a federal crime. His decision has sparked growing public outcry, both nationally and at home.

Democratic state Rep. Reginald Meeks of Louisville said his community is disappointed in Paul's decision, especially amid the massive protests and national rage over the police killing of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor.

"We here in Kentucky, people of color, people of conscience, are not at all unfamiliar with these tactics," Meeks said. "It's not uncommon for him to step out in front of the community and claim to be on one side, when his actions speak otherwise."

Called the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, the bill passed the U.S. House nearly unanimously, and has the backing of all senators except for Paul, who says he opposes the legislation because he believes it's written in a way that potentially could allow for excessive prison sentences for minor hate crimes.

Meeks said Kentucky voters will decide if Paul's stance on the bill is acceptable.

"Rather than proposing an alternative that is not 'sloppily written,' as he says, he would rather shoot the whole thing down," he said.

For now, the bill remains stalled in the Senate. More than 4,700 people across the country, mostly African-Americans, reportedly were lynched between 1882 and 1968.

What is considered to be the last public execution by hanging in the U.S. occurred in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1936.