A 23-year-old Mississippi man burned a cross in his front lawn to threaten his Black neighbors, officials say. He's now facing federal hate crime charges.

Justice Scales and books and wooden gavel
Justice Scales and books and wooden gavel - stock photoWitthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images
  • A Mississippi man was charged for burning a cross to intimidate a Black family, per the DOJ.

  • Axel C. Cox, 23, is facing multiple charges stemming from the 2020 incident.

  • The DOJ alleged that he threatened and used "derogatory remarks toward his Black neighbors."

A 23-year-old Mississippi man is being charged with federal hate crime charges after officials say he burned a cross in his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbors, according to the Department of Justice.

Axel C. Cox of Gulfport was also charged with one count of using fire to commit a felony and one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing in connection to the alleged cross burning, which federal prosecutors say Cox committed to menace his neighbors because of their race, the DOJ said.

In addition, Cox "used threatening and racially derogatory remarks toward his Black neighbors," per the department.

Cross-burning is considered a hate symbol made popular by the Ku Klux Klan. Cox is facing years in prison for his alleged actions, and a $250,000 fine  "with respect to each charge," the DOJ said.

 

"This is another stark reminder of how bigotry, racism, and hate-fueled violence are alive and well in our country. Mississippi is no exception," Vangela M. Wade of the  Mississippi Center for Justice told the Associated Press. "The fight to dismantle Mississippi's deeply entrenched culture of injustice and a better tomorrow continues. We are thankful for the courage of the members of the federal grand jury to indict this hate crime."

According to the AP, Cox, who is in custody without bond, is set for a jury trial on November 7.

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