TYLER, Texas–Tyler businessman and rancher Hank Gilbert on Wednesday afternoon questioned why 15-year incumbent Congressman Louie Gohmert voted against the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, which would have made lynching a federal crime.
Gohmert was one of only four members in the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the legislation.
“When I saw this vote come across, I could not believe it,” said Gilbert, who is running to unseat Gohmert in November.
“I had to look at the calendar and see if it was 2020 or 1920 when I saw that vote,” said Gilbert. “It is unconscionable that a sitting congressman would not vote to make lynching a federal crime,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert was joined in his condemnation of Gohmert’s actions by the leadership of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, and leaders and pastors from across Congressional District 1.
“After 100 years of trying to pass anti-lynching legislation, it is sad that a Texas Congressman, Louie Gohmert, was among the four ‘no’ votes against this bill,” said Hon. Carrol G. Robinson, Esq., State Chairman of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.
“After over 400 lynchings in Texas from 1885 to 1942, we should be at the point where lynching is universally condemned in our society,” Robinson said. “It is sad Congressman Gohmert wouldn’t vote for lynching to be a federal crime,” he said.
Rev. Alex Mills, a longtime community leader in Nacogdoches, said Gohmert was behind the times with his vote.
“I think Gohmert is probably 100 years behind the times on these issues and his votes,” Mills said.
“I wouldn’t expect that from a representative these days. It just shows evidence that throughout America, especially in Texas, that they are trying to roll back the clock,” Mills said.
“That is not only terrible. There is another word for it–tragic. It is tragic that the mentality of the present people hasn’t changed from the people 75 years ago,” said Mills.
Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton also said Gohmert should have voted for the legislation.
“I am shocked that our Congressman would vote against making lynching a federal crime,” said Commissioner Hampton. “Lynching should be a federal hate crime. While there may only be a ten-year penalty in the federal legislation, we must start somewhere. We have been trying to pass this bill in this country for 100 years,” Hampton continued.
Former Tyler City Councilman and longtime Tyler area pastor and community leader Ralph Caraway also said Gohmert’s vote wasn’t in touch with current views.
“In this day and time when we talk about togetherness, it is sad we would still vote against legislation that makes what is essentially a human rights violation a federal crime,” Caraway said.
“I continue to be appalled by Gohmert’s reasoning and his votes,” said Gilbert. “Robert Henson Hilliard. James Hodges. Daniel Sutton. Joe Adams. These are the names of just a few of the people who were lynched in Congressional District 1. Gohmert needs to read about some of the lynchings that occurred in this district, and maybe he’d change his mind. However, it appears he’s too busy carrying Donald Trump’s water to be concerned about what the people in his district think,” Gilbert said.