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WATCH: Senate Passes Sen. Ossoff’s Bipartisan Bill to Secure Justice for Civil Rights Cold Case Victims

Sen. Ossoff: “Decades may have passed, but the pursuit of justice cannot and will not end”

Washington, D.C. –– U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan legislation to secure justice for civil rights cold case victims and their families passed the U.S. Senate today.

Sen. Ossoff and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s bipartisan Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act of 2022 will help the Civil Cold Case Review Board investigate unsolved crimes from the Civil Rights era and secure justice for victims and their families.

“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 in a speech on the Senate floor. “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.”

While the Review Board was formally authorized and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2019, Board members were not nominated until last year and confirmed until February of this year.

Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan legislation will extend the Review Board’s term through 2027 to ensure they have the time they need to conduct their investigations, secure justice, and get answers for families and communities harmed by these crimes.

In a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing in March, Sen. Ossoff highlighted meeting the family of Caleb Hill Jr., who was pulled from Wilkinson County jail in the middle of the night in 1949 and shot to death by a lynch mob — but whose killers have not been brought to justice.

Click here to watch Sen. Ossoff’s floor speech.

Please find a transcript below:

SEN. OSSOFF: “Mr. President, 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.

“I rise today, Mr. President, to ask that the Senate pass the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act to secure justice and pursue truth for the victims of those atrocities, for the victims of civil rights cold cases, and for their families.

“Justice for folks like Alfonso Harris, a member of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) who was murdered in Albany, Georgia in 1966.

“Justice for Ernest Hunter who was killed in a physical altercation at the Camden County Jail in St. Mary’s, Georgia in 1958.

“Justice for Caleb Hill Jr. who was dragged at night from a Wilkinson County Jail in Middle, Georgia in 1949 and shot to death by a lynch mob.

“Decades may have passed but the pursuit of justice cannot and will not end, Mr. President, and I sat down at Wilkinson County a few months ago with Caleb Hill Jr.’s descendants. And in his name, they demand justice by passing the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigation Support Act, and by doing it with the support of Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, 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. 

“I thank Senator Cruz for his original co-sponsorship of this bipartisan legislation, and all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for bringing us now to a point where after much work, I hope that we can pass this legislation with bipartisan support.

“So Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar Number 451, S.3655.”

SEN. HICKENLOOPER, PRESIDING OFFICER: “The Clerk will report.”

SENATE FLOOR STAFF: “Calendar number 451, S.3655. A bill to amend the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 to extend the termination date of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board.”

PRESIDING OFFICER: “Without objection, the Senate will proceed to the measure.”

SEN. OSSOFF: “I further ask that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.”

SEN. HICKENLOOPER, PRESIDING OFFICER: “Without objection.”

SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.”

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