What the anti-lynching law means for the country

Most hate crimes will not fall under the language written in the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, according to a University of Detroit-Mercy law professor.

Official White House photo by Adam Schultz

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act has now passed. It comes after a century of stalls and blockades — and well beyond the time when lynchings in the U.S. were as common as they were in the early 1900s.

That leaves questions about its significance and what it signals to America about the stories it tells itself.

“There are limits to what one criminal law can do.” — Leslie Scott, University of Detroit-Mercy.

Listen: The significance of an anti-lynching law becoming a federal hate crime.



Leslie Scott is an associate professor of law at University of Detroit-Mercy. She says the law relies on the idea of deterrence, which is flawed.

Scott notes the country should emphasize the need for providing social services to victims of hate crimes and their families, among other things.

“There are limits to what one criminal law can do,” Scott says.

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  • Sam Corey

    Sam Corey is a producer for Detroit Today on 101.9 WDET, which includes finding and preparing interesting stories for radio. He enjoys salsa dancing — and actual salsa.