A Mississippi man pleaded guilty to burning a cross on his lawn to scare Black neighbors 'because they were occupying a home next to his,' officials say
- A Mississippi man pleaded guilty to burning a cross to intimidate his neighbors.
- Axel Cox "admitted that he burned the cross" because his neighbors were Black, the DOJ said.
A Mississippi man pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges, the Justice Department said Friday.
Prosecutors said 24-year-old Axel Cox "admitted that he burned the cross because of the victims' race and because they were occupying a home next to his." Cross-burning is considered a hate symbol popularized by the Ku Klux Klan.
Cox was charged with violating the Fair Housing Act for trying to intimidate his neighbors in December 2020, officials said. He assembled a wooden cross in his yard and covered it with motor oil before lighting it on fire, per the DOJ.
In addition, prosecutors previously said that Cox also used racially derogatory remarks against the neighbors.
"Burning a cross invokes the long and painful history, particularly in Mississippi, of intimidation and impending physical violence against Black people," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a press release.
"The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who use racially-motivated violence to drive people away from their homes or communities."
The DOJ said that Cox's sentencing is set for March. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
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