The historic passage of an anti-lynching bill in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday wasn’t even close with a vote of 422 to 3. But the lopsided vote also brought attention to the three Republican Congressmen who opposed the bill named for Emmett Till that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
One of them, Texas Rep. Chip Roy, has made no secret about his feelings toward lynching, an infamous and terroristic vigilante tactic employed against Black people by racist whites in the 19th and 20th centuries that often ended in public executions by way of hangings. Roy has framed the topic of lynchings in the context of law enforcement and even claimed that it offered “protection” to Americans, which is tantamount to racist dog-whistling.
Just about a year ago, Roy expressed a similar sentiment during a Congressional hearing about Asian Americans and hate crimes.
“We believe in justice,” Roy said in reference to people from Texas.
He went on to glorify lynching imagery.
“There’s old sayings in Texas about ‘find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree,’” Roy continued. “You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe.”
Later, Roy doubled down on that hatefully violent rhetoric during a brief interview with the Austin-American Statesman last year. At the time, Roy said he views lynching through the lens of policing.
“I’m pro law enforcement. I’m pro taking out the bad guys. Hang ’em high,” Roy said about lynching.
He all but shrugged when asked about America’s history of lynching Black people.
“Yeah, so?” Roy asked. “It was a metaphor for justice.”
Clearly, Roy’s views about lynchings — for which his state was responsible for hundreds of instances — have not evolved.
Democrats demanded Roy’s resignation in vain.
According to the Lynching In Texas website, there were more than 600 lynchings in the Lone Star State between 1882 and 1945.
A typical lynching involved a criminal accusation, an arrest, and the assembly of a mob, followed by seizure, physical torment, and murder of the victim. Lynchings were often public spectacles attended by the white community in celebration of white supremacy. Photos of lynchings were often sold as souvenir postcards.
Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat and former member of the Black Panther Party who introduced the “Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” took to Twitter to say he was not “surprised” that Roy was among the three Republicans who voted against the bill.
Rush also called out the other two Republicans who voted against the bill, including Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde, who “Called the 1/6 insurrection a ‘normal tourist visit,’” and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, who “Wrote a bill to allow guns in school zones.”
“This bill will ensure that the full force of the federal government is ALWAYS brought to bear on individuals who commit the monstrous act of lynching,” Rush said in a separate tweet.
The bill now advances to the U.S. Senate.
The legislation honors Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was kidnapped, tortured and lynched in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. It was passed in the House in 2020 after more than 200 failed attempts but never passed the Senate.
“The House today has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history, and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course,” Rush said Monday after the vote.