A 24-year-old Mississippi man was sentenced on Thursday to 42 months in prison after he burned a cross in his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbors, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
According to prosecutors, Axel Cox, of Gulfport, the case stemmed from an incident in December 2020 when Cox assembled a wooden cross in his front yard for his Black neighbor to view, then doused it with motor oil and set it on fire. Cox also directed racially-charged statements to the family.
In court, Cox and his mother said the incident was related to a neighbor allegedly shooting a dog. He denied he is a racist and said he doesn’t have hatred for anyone because of their color, reported Law & Crime.
Judge Sul Ozerden said Cox admitted at re-arraignment to committing the acts in a predominantly Black neighborhood because he wanted them to be scared and angry, reported Law & Crime.
Cox was indicted by a grand jury in September. He pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and violating the Fair Housing Act in December.
Judge Ozerden sentenced Cox to 42 months in prison. Cox must also serve three years of supervised release and pay $7,810 in restitution.
More about the case can be found here.
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