American Creed document
18 USC 241
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State,
Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or
privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so
exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to
prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results
from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to
kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill,
they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be
sentenced to death.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 696; Pub. L. 90–284, title I, § 103(a), Apr. 11, 1968, 82 Stat. 75; Pub.
L. 100–690, title VII, § 7018(a), (b)(1), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4396; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI,
§ 60006(a), title XXXII, §§ 320103(a), 320201(a), title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108
Stat. 1970, 2109, 2113, 2147; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, §§ 604(b)(14)(A), 607(a), Oct. 11, 1996, 110
Stat. 3507, 3511.)
No person has the right to deprive another person of his/her civil rights under color of any law. The
term “under color of any law,” means “under pretense of law.” 18 U.S.C. § 242 prohibits and also
prescribes punishment for those who deprive another person of his/her rights under color of any law of
the United States.
By virtue of 18 U.S.C. § 242, whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or
custom, willfully subjects any person in any state, territory, or district to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to
different punishments or penalties, only because of the reason that such person is an alien, or is of a
particular color or race, is subject to be fined or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
Furthermore, 18 U.S.C. § 242 provides greater punishment to offenders if their acts result in bodily
injury or death, or involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of dangerous weapons, fire, or
explosives, or kidnapping.
It is evident that 18 U.S.C. § 242 provides punishment for two different offenses: (1) willfully
subjecting any person to the deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the
Federal Constitution or laws; and (2) willfully subjecting any such person to different punishments, on
account of his/her race or color, from those prescribed for the punishment of citizens.
For an offense to be committed under 18 U.S.C. § 242 the following elements are to be satisfied:
- a person’s acts must have deprived another person of a right secured or protected by the
Constitution or laws of the United States;
- the person must have committed the act under color of law;
- the other person, whose rights have been deprived, must have been present in any state,
territory, or district within the United States; and
- the person must have acted willfully to deprive the other person of his /her rights.
18 U.S.C. § 242 generally applies to the action of federal officers taken under color of federal law.
However, the statute also applies against all acts by state agents, and private individuals acting in
consort with such federal officers. All people residing within the United States, including aliens who
have illegally entered the country, are entitled to the protection provided by 18 U.S.C. § 242.