Rush Statement on the Reopening of the Emmett Till Investigation and Civil Rights Era Crimes

Jul 12, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) released the following statement regarding news that the U.S. Department of Justice has reopened the federal investigation into the horrific and racially motivated killing of Emmett Till:

“The horrific circumstances surrounding the murder of Emmett Till have always been of great personal interest to me, particularly because Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till — a true and dedicated friend, a courageous civil rights leader in her own acts of commitment, and a particular asset to our nation’s children — was a longtime resident of the 1st Congressional District of Illinois, which also serves as Emmett’s final resting place.

Last year, I called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen this case in light of new information that was revealed. I am glad to see the federal government following through on this request. This case is not only critically important for the role it played in sparking the Civil Rights movement, but so that Emmett and his family receive the justice that is owed to them. It is vital that everyone — both victims and perpetrators — knows that heinous crimes of this nature will never go unpunished.

“Righting the wrongs of history for some of the most egregious and disgraceful incidents we’ve experienced is why I introduced H.R. 1272, the “Cold Case Record Collections Act of 2017”. It is important for the families and communities affected by these horrific crimes — and also, to correct the national record — to help bring justice and closure to unsolved cases from the Civil Rights Era. I am especially pleased that Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), this week, introduced companion legislation to my bill in the U.S. Senate.

“Emmett Till’s murder is a constant reminder of the violence and hatred espoused by a significant number of the majority for the African-American community. Even today, the crime that he was a victim of, lynching, is still not illegal under federal law. As recent events have shown, the vitriol and animus that existed in that era has not faded away. That is why I introduced H.R. 6086, a bill that would establish lynching as a criminal violation of the U.S. Code and I am glad to see that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has introduced the companion to my bill in the U.S. Senate.

“It is clear from the events in a Cook County Forest Preserve that were reported this week, that intolerance and animosity towards communities of color continue to plague our society. Without addressing the sins of our past, we will never achieve the understanding we need to truly achieve the reconciliation that will allow us to move forward.”