23-Year-Old Arrested, Charged For Burning Crucifix To Frighten And Threaten Black Family

23-Year-Old Arrested, Charged For Burning Crucifix To Frighten And Threaten Black Family

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.

“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.

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