Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a news release Wednesday that his office and the commission will work together in contributing to the project, which is called “Justice in the Aftermath: Documenting the Truth of Racial Terror Lynching in Maryland to Support Restorative Justice Among Affected Communities.”
“The grant will allow the Commission to acknowledge and address the brutality of lynchings that occurred in our own backyards,” Frosh said in a statement. “Lynchings were witnessed, tolerated and, too often, encouraged by leaders in our state. It is our obligation to do the difficult work to expose these harsh truths and address the harms to families, communities, and our state.”
The funding also will help the commission — established unanimously in 2019 by the Maryland General Assembly — research cases of racially motivated lynchings that are not yet documented and investigate the involvement of government entities and news media in them. The commission is supposed to hold public hearings where a lynching of a Black person by a white mob has been documented, get recommendations from the public and determine how to address it for restorative justice.
At least 43 lynchings were committed in Maryland throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the state attorney general said, and no person has ever been tried or convicted of the crimes.
Then-President Barack Obama signed the Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act in 2016, authorizing the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecute civil rights violations that occurred before 1980.
Frosh’s office applied for the grant through the Justice Department’s Emmett Till Cold Case Investigations Program.
“It really speaks to this moment of revelation, both culturally and historically, that our efforts have been recognized and granted this significant support,” commission Chair David Fakunle said in a statement. “We always intended to complete our charges to the best of our abilities, and now we no longer have the biggest hurdle towards that goal. That said, watch us leave a legacy of justice worth remembering and building upon.”