By Alexis Rios-Jimenez
WASHINGTON, DC – President Biden has signed into law U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill, the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act of 2022 to “secure justice for victims of unsolved lynchings and murders.”
The measure extends the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board’s term and helps investigate these unsolved crimes until 2027, which would help in “ensuring the Board has ample time to conduct its investigations and deliver justice to the families and victims impacted by these hate crimes,” according to Ossoff’s office.
Introduced by Sen. Ossoff and other Senators on Feb. 16, 2022, the bill, said the lawmaker, engendered a rare instance of bipartisan collaboration. Following the bill’s passage by Congress earlier in the year, many senators made statements on the significance of the bill’s passage and the importance of ensuring that justice be sought.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was among those who helped introduce the bill earlier in the year and commented on the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act, saying, “During the Civil Rights movement, there were far too many unsolved violent race-based crimes committed against African Americans.”
Sen. Cruz said it was his hope that “by giving the Review Board more time to examine the case files related to these unsolved crimes, we can shed sunlight on these Civil Rights cold cases and finally bring justice to the victims and their families.”
The Texas senator also expressed appreciation for Sen. Ossoff and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL-01) for collaborating with him on the bill’s passage.
In a powerful speech on the floor of the Senate back in September, Sen. Ossoff offered his perspective on why the passage of his bipartisan bill into full-fledged law was necessary in aiding the pursuit of justice for crimes authorities had let fade into obscurity.
“I rise this afternoon in pursuit of justice for the Black men and Black women abducted, beaten and killed during the segregation era in the American South, and in retaliation for their participation in the Civil Rights Movement,” Sen. Ossoff said.
Framing the importance of the work that has gone undone for decades, Sen. Ossoff stated, “We will demonstrate that the United States will never rest in the pursuit of truth and justice for those who were lynched, abducted, beaten, killed, and assaulted in the segregation era South and during the Civil Rights Movement.”
Following President Biden’s signing of the bill earlier this week, the bill’s author said, “Now that the President has signed my bipartisan legislation to investigate unsolved lynchings and Civil Rights cold cases, the work of pursuing justice can continue for the Black women, Black children, and Black men who were killed in some of the most heinous ways in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.”
Most pivotal to the senator’s reaction was his assertion this new law would provide an important opportunity to pursue justice for “those crimes [that had] been swept under the rug and never investigated, on behalf of those who were killed. There’s no expiration date on justice; that’s why this effort must continue.”
Rep. Rush introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives with Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), and Nikema Williams (D-GA-05).