Sep 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Mississippi man charged with hate crime after allegedly burning cross

Photo of the Mississippi state flag flying from a pole as the sun sets

The new Mississippi state flag flies outside the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi on Nov. 14, 2020. Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A Mississippi man has been charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning a cross in a bid to threaten a Black family, the Justice Department announced Friday.

The big picture: The Klu Klux Klan wielded cross burnings as a symbol of racial hatred and terror, with white supremacists deliberately targeting Black neighborhoods. Though less frequent today, the intimidation tactic remains a tool for racism and oppression.

Driving the news: Axel C. Cox, 23, allegedly burned the cross in his front yard because of the victims' race and hurled racially derogatory comments at his Black neighbors on Dec. 3, 2020.

  • If convicted, Cox faces up to 10 years in prison for interfering with the family's housing rights based on racial discrimination and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison consecutive to any other sentence for using fire to commit a federal felony, according to the DOJ.

What they're saying: "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, president of the Mississippi Center for Justice, told AP.

  • "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."

What to watch: Cox's jury trial is slated to start Nov. 7, per AP.

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