For Immediate Release


Linda Paris, 202-675-2312,


ACLU Applauds Newly Enacted Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act

Says law addresses long overdue investigations into civil rights era murders

WASHINGTON - Last night, President Bush signed into law a bill to provide personnel and funds for federal investigations into murders and other crimes committed during the civil rights era. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act authorizes the attorney general of the Department of Justice to spend $10 million annually over 10 years to investigate and prosecute these cold cases.

The legislation is named in honor of Emmett Till, a 14 year-old African-American teenager whose 1955 brutal murder for allegedly whistling at a white woman remains unsolved today. After passing the House in June 2007, 422-2, it passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 24, 2008.

The following can be attributed to Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

"The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act addresses the long overdue investigations into civil rights era murders. Time is of the essence in these cold cases, where witnesses and suspects are aging and physical evidence may be scant.

"With the passage of this act, the Department of Justice has the added resources to finally resolve civil rights era crimes. This law, which bears the name of a young boy whose horrific death 53 years ago helped propel the civil rights movement in America, will finally ensure that those guilty of civil rights crimes will be held accountable. This law means justice delayed, no longer has to be justice denied."  


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