WASHINGTON D.C. (KETK) -U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert is one of four who voted against a bill that made lynching a federal hate crime.
Since the vote on Wednesday, there has been criticism but Rep. Gohmert stands behind his vote saying the legislation does not go far enough.
The first anti-lynching bill was introduced in Congress more than a century ago, but on Wednesday history was made.
“If the maximum term of imprisonment for such completed violation is less than 10 years, the person may be imprisoned for not more than 10 years…that’s ridiculous,” said Rep. Gohmert. “like in the James Byrd Case.”
Referring to the 1998 murder in Jasper Texas, where James Byrd Junior was chained to a pickup truck and dragged almost three miles. Two of the three men were convicted of the crime and received the death penalty.
“I prefer those defendants be tried under Texas Capital Murder statue rather than under federal hate crimes law because under the Texas Capital Murder laws the defendants could get the death penalty.”
One East Texas attorney explained that Gohmert wants anyone who commits a lynching act to receive a harsher punishment than what the bill is calling for.
“State law here is actually stronger. You can have the death penalty for somebody who commits murder, but the federal law only allows, for the lynching law only allows for 10 years in prison at most,” said Justin Roberts, a lawyer with Roberts & Roberts Law Firm.
For some, they remember the Jasper case all too well and believe justice for thousands will only come after lawmakers make a change.
“He said that it was not enough time, the 10 years, but anytime is better than no time,” said Dr. Shirley McKellar, Tyler City Council Member.
Despite his vote against the ‘Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act’ passed in the House with 410 yeas and four nays. It was named after a 14-year-old who was brutally murdered in Mississippi.
The bill will now go before the Senate and if passed will head to President Trump’s desk.
To watch Rep. Gohmert’s full statement, click below.