The Justice Department stated that a Mississippi man pled guilty in federal court to a hate crime for burning a crucifix in his front yard to scare a black family.
Axel C. Cox, 24, of Gulfport, was found guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act by threatening and degrading his black neighbors and burning a crucifix to frighten them, according to court filings.
Cox said he used household goods to build a wooden cross in his front yard and raised it up for his black neighbors to see.
Hurts the Long and Sad History
Cox then burned the cross with engine oil. Cox said he burned the crucifix because of the victims’ ethnicity and because they lived next door.
“Burning a cross conjures the long and sad history, notably in Mississippi, of intimidation and imminent physical violence against Black people,” said Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.
“The Department of Justice will prosecute anyone who uses racially-motivated violence to push people out of their homes or communities.
The Gulfport Police Department, the FBI, the Civil Rights Division, and our office brought this defendant to justice,” said Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca.
Fighting Racial Intimidation Alongside Mississippians
“Individuals in our communities should be free from threats and intimidation,” said FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada.
The FBI and its partners in law enforcement will keep going after people who break federal civil rights laws.
March 9, 2023, is sentencing. Cox may be imprisoned for 10 years or fined $250,000.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney LaMarca, Assistant Director Quesada, and
FBI Jackson Field Office Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby announced Gulfport Police and the FBI’s Jackson Field Office investigated.
Andrea Cabell Jones and Noah Coakley II, who work in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, were in charge of the case.
Visit www.justice.gov/hatecrimes for information and resources on the department’s hate crime activities.