American Justice Notebook

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Mississippi Man Charged with Hate Crime for Burning a Cross on Black Family’s Front Yard

The Justice Department announced that Axel C. Cox, 23, has been charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning a cross in his front yard to threaten, interfere with and intimidate a Black family in Gulfport, Mississippi.

According to court documents, Cox is charged with one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony.

Cox is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The indictment alleges that on Dec. 3, 2020, Cox threatened, intimidated and interfered with a Black family’s enjoyment of their housing rights.

According to the indictment, Cox burned a cross in his front yard, and used threatening and racially derogatory remarks toward his Black neighbors.

Cox allegedly chose to burn the cross because of the victims’ race.

Cox faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Cabell Jones for the Southern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Noah Coakley II of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.