Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) stormed the Senate floor on Thursday and burned Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the ground for holding up bipartisan anti-lynching legislation.
Paul, reminding America that there are two – not just one – repugnant senators from Kentucky, said he wants to hit the brake on the bill because he doesn’t think cuts, bruises or abrasions should be considered lynching.
“If you’re gonna call something an anti-lynching bill, but you’re gonna have a new conspiracy charge for someone who has minor bruising, we don’t think that’s appropriate,” Paul said, according to CNN.
Kamala Harris was having none of it. She called Paul’s stunt “ridiculous” and said he’s trying to weaken a piece of legislation that has already passed.
“To suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone’s heart was pulled out and produced and displayed to someone else is ridiculous,” she said.
“There is no reason for this,” Harris added. “There is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning.”
An excerpt of Kamala Harris’ remarks:
The idea that we would not be taking the issue of lynching seriously is an insult. To suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone’s heart was pulled out and produced and displayed to someone else is ridiculous. And on this day, the day of George Floyd’s funeral. On this day, a day that should be a day of national mourning. Mr. President, in 2018 the Senate unanimously passed bipartisan anti-lynching legislation, which I proudly introduced with the only other black members of this body, Sen. Cory Book and Sen. Tim Scott. It was a historic moment. It marked the first time in the history of our country that federal anti-lynching legislation had been passed by the United States Senate. It passed again by unanimous consent in 2019. Sen. Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed. There’s no reason for this. There’s no reason for this. Sen. Paul’s amendment would place a greater burden on victims of lynching than is currently required under federal hate crimes laws. There is no reason for this. There is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning. On this very day at this very hour, there is a memorial service to honor the life of George Floyd who was murdered on a sidewalk by a police officer with a knee on his neck. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, George Floyd plead for his life, called for his late mother and said he could not breathe. The pain experienced not only by that man, that human being, and his family and his children, but the pain of the people of America, witnessing what we have witnessed since the founding of this country, which is that black lives have not been taken seriously, as being fully human and deserving of dignity. And it should not require a maiming or torture in order for us to recognize a lynching when we see it. And recognize it by federal law.
It’s never a good day in American politics when Rand Paul’s name is in the headlines. After all, the last time the Kentucky senator’s name came up was when he voted against an emergency coronavirus relief package – the only senator to do so.
But as Kamala Harris said on Thursday, this is time of mourning in the United States – mourning for all of the lives that have been devalued and lost because of a broken criminal justice system.
Choosing to stand in the way of an anti-lynching bill is bad enough on a typical day, but doing it right now is particularly despicable.
Rand Paul is the worst of American politics – and a reminder of just how far this country still has left to go.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.
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