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House Passes Civil Rights Legislation Co-Sponsored By Hulshof

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The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed H.R. 923, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act by a margin of 422-2. The bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

H.R. 923 will help the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI reopen Civil Rights-era criminal cases that have gone cold. It designates a Deputy Chief within the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of DOJ and designates a Supervisory Special Agent in the Civil Rights Unit of the FBI to investigate and prosecute these cold cases.

It would target civil rights cases that occurred before 1970 and resulted in death.

"This legislation helps rectify the inequities of the past and provides justice to those it has seemingly forgotten," Hulshof stated. "It's appropriate to give law enforcement officers the tools to exhaust all available avenues to justice in these cases. The passage of time is no reason to deny justice."

One of the purposes of the bill is to strengthen coordinated efforts between federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors to bring fugitives to justice. The bill requires annual reporting to Congress on the progress made in these cases.

"These unsolved murders leave a stain on the integrity of the judicial system in America," said Lewis. "The credibility of the government is in question here. These lingering unsolved cases lead African Americans and other citizens to wonder whether this nation is truly committed to justice or whether there are times when we find it convenient to look the other way. That is why it is so important to bring this chapter of our dark past to a close."

Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced similar legislation in the United States Senate. The bill is named after teenager Emmett Till who was murdered and mutilated while visiting family in Money, Mississippi in 1955.

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