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Mississippi man who burned cross to intimidate Black neighbors pleads guilty to hate crime

A Mississippi man pleaded responsible to a federal hate crime after he burned a cross in his entrance yard to intimidate his Black neighbors.

Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, admitted that on Dec. 3, 2020, he gathered provides from his residence, made them right into a wood cross and propped it up in his yard so his neighbors may see it, the Justice Division stated in a information launch Friday.

He then doused the cross with motor oil and set it on hearth. Cross-burning was used within the Jim Crow period by the Ku Klux Klan and different white supremacist teams as a type of racial intimidation of Black individuals.

“Cox admitted that he burned the cross due to the victims’ race and since they have been occupying a house subsequent to his,” the discharge said.

He additionally admitted to utilizing threatening and racially derogatory remarks towards the household, prosecutors stated. The neighbors are solely recognized by their initials within the courtroom paperwork.

A grand jury indicted Cox in September. His legal professional didn’t instantly return a request for touch upon Saturday.

“Burning a cross invokes the lengthy and painful historical past, notably in Mississippi, of intimidation and impending bodily violence towards Black individuals,” stated Assistant Legal professional Normal Kristen Clarke of the Justice Division’s Civil Rights Division. “The Division of Justice will proceed to prosecute those that use racially-motivated violence to drive individuals away from their properties or communities.”

Cox faces a most of 10 years in jail at his sentencing on March 9.

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