On Friday, December 16th, President Barack Obama signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. The bill reauthorizes the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, and expands the responsibilities of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to include the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights statutes violations that occurred before 1980 and resulted in a death. The law was set to expire next year.
Previously, the original bill signed in 2007, limited current investigations before 1970.
In addition, the bill will also require federal agencies to meet regularly with civil rights organizations, institutions of higher education and other designated entities to discuss the status of the DOJ’s Emmitt Till work. It will also require an annual report highlighting the number of cases being referred by a civil rights organization, the number of cases resulting in federal charges and the date any charges were filed.
Fourteen year old Emmett Till was killed on August 24, 1955 for whistling at a white woman. The two white men who killed Till were tried for murder, but later acquitted by an all-white male jury.
The new bill, nicknamed “Till Bill 2” is believed to hopefully allow more cases to be opened. So far, there has been one conviction as more than 100 cases have been reviewed from the 1960s and earlier.