Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CONYERS, LEWIS & SENSENBRENNER Applaud House Passage of Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2854/ H.R. 5067, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act. The Till bill's primary purpose is to provide federal resources to local jurisdictions in the resolution of civil rights era cold cases.  This reauthorization represents a recommitment to the original goals of the bill as well as the strengthening and clarification of the law, as called for by interested civil rights groups and families. 

The lead House sponsors of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act released the following statements after House passage of the legislation:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We must never forget our nation’s dark past and should be mindful of our history and why so many in the African-American community raise the issue of whether black lives matter.  Many civil rights era crimes were barely noted or investigated, and I believe the perpetrators of those crimes should be brought to justice, even 50 years later. We passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act in 2007 to help bring these cases to light and seek justice for victims and their families. The Till Reauthorization Act will further empower the Department of Justice and cold case advocates to share information and review the status and closure of cases through 1980.  I applaud House passage of this legislation and urge my Senate colleagues to quickly pass the legislation, so that it can be signed into law.”  ORIGINAL CO-SPONSOR - Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)

“When this bill was signed into law, family members, academics, historians, lawyers, advocates began working to develop a full accounting for these long-standing, gross human and civil rights atrocities.  The reauthorization that the House passed this evening is a response to their appeals to make the law a better tool in their quest for justice. We took the time to research and study what happened after the original bill was signed into law.  We listened to and were guided by the advocates, by law professors, by families, and by the press.  We worked across the aisle and across the Dome to develop a bill that fulfills our promise to never give up on this effort – to never abandon the pursuit of truth.  I am very pleased by House passage tonight and look forward to passage in the Senate and the signature of President Barack Obama.” ORIGINAL CO-SPONSOR - Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

“As an original cosponsor of the Emmett Till Reauthorization Act, I’m pleased to see my colleagues came together and supported this important bill. This bipartisan legislation will provide for a sustained, well-coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute unsolved civil rights-era crimes. There are hundreds of cold cases from the civil rights era that have never been solved, and it is my hope that we are able to bring justice to the victims’ families.”  ORIGINAL CO-SPONSOR -  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

Senate action on the amended bill is anticipated before the end of the 114th Congress, and sponsors are hoping it will be signed into law in 2016. 

  • This bill requires the Department of Justice and FBI to consult with civil rights organizations, universities, and other entities that have also been gathering evidence in these cold cases;  
  • Provides clearer direction and improved coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement and the activists, advocates, and academics working on these issues;  
  • Strengthens the Department of Justice’s reporting requirements;
  • Expands the time span of cases to be considered by ten years, to include all cases that occurred not later than December 31, 1979;
  • Encourages the Department of Justice to review specific closed cases that warrant further investigation; 
  • Maintains the previous investigation structure and funding levels; and
  • Clarifies the law’s intent.

Conyers' floor statement video can be watched here.

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