A 23-year-old Mississippi man was charged with a hate crime on Friday after it was claimed that he set a crucifix on fire in his yard to frighten and threaten a Black family. According to a news statement from the Department of Justice, Axel Cox is accused of burning the cross in the front yard of his Gulfport, Mississippi, home. He also faces another charge of using fire to accomplish a federal crime (DOJ).
According to court records, on December 3, 2020, Cox allegedly intimidated his Black neighbors by making “racially disparaging” statements to them and burning a crucifix in order to violate their right to housing. Cox is subject to a maximum 10-year jail sentence for interfering with housing rights and a minimum 10-year sentence for using fire to conduct a federal crime. Additionally, each offense carries a punishment of up to $250,000.
A 23-year-old Miss. man is charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning a cross in his own front yard. Investigators say Axel Cox was trying to threaten and intimidate a Black family that lived next door. https://t.co/JL5fN62rjv pic.twitter.com/x3YFrFnbGD
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) September 23, 2022
“This serves as yet another clear illustration of how prevalent prejudice, racism, and violence motivated by hatred are in our nation. Vangela Wade, president of the Mississippi Center for Justice, told The Associated Press that Mississippi is not an example.
“The battle for a brighter tomorrow and to overthrow Mississippi’s deeply ingrained culture of injustice continues. We appreciate the federal grand jury’s bravery in bringing charges for this hate crime.
Cox’s encounter with police enforcement is not her first. Cox has entered and exited the Harrison County jail seven times since 2017. The most recent occurred in February of this year, when he was accused of having a handgun in his possession as a convicted felon and receiving stolen items.
In addition to Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Cabell Jones, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will bring the case against Cox in the Southern District of Mississippi.
Axel Cox Accused of Hate Crime Against Black Family🇺🇸 https://t.co/659XTU5MNU
— DebDirtyLooks🗽💋💅🏿🔮 (@dirtydeb95) September 24, 2022
Axel C. Cox, of Gulfport, set a cross ablaze while spewing racist comments at his Black neighbors," reported Brooke Leigh Howard. "On Friday, the Department of Justice charged him with one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing👇https://t.co/oftxgARSIS
— 🤎⚜️DarkAveryMariah⚜️🤎 (@DarkAveryMariah) September 23, 2022
Axel Cox from Gulfport, MS made his initial appearance in court today for federal hate crime charges.
He allegedly tried to intimidate his Black neighbors by burning a cross on his front lawn and threatened them.
How horrific. pic.twitter.com/UOCKeK2KOx
— Andrés Fuentes (@news_fuentes) September 23, 2022