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Effort Underway To Remove "Lynching" From Penal Code

Carbon Arc, flickr

Carbon Arc, flickr

The term "lynching" is generally associated with brutal mob killings of African-Americans. But in California, it’s legally defined as taking a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer during a riot. That led to recent lynching charges against a Sacramento African-American woman who tried to pull friends away from police during a protest.

Democratic state Senator Holly Mitchell has authored a bill that would eliminate the word "lynching" from the California Penal Code.

"African Americans tend to have a real visceral response to the term itself,” she says. “And to think that it’s on the books still in this day and age, we felt it was something we should do about it.”

Mitchell says it’s ironic the 1930’s era law was used to charge an African-American.

"Actually it was designed to protect African-Americans, quite frankly, from lynching mobs,” she says.

Mitchell is not proposing a change to the law or the penalties associated with it. But she says it should not be called lynching.

The measure passed a Senate committee today and now moves to the full Senate.

Katie Orr

Former Health Care Reporter

Katie Orr reported for Capital Public Radio News through December 2015.  Read Full Bio 

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