HPNM

White 23-Year-Old Man indicted for Cross Burning in Harrison County on Gulf Coast

Axel Charles Cox, 23, “burned a cross in his front yard, and used threatening and racially derogatory remarks towards” five Black neighbors in Harrison County, an indictment unveiled on Sept. 20, 2022, before a federal court sitting in Gulfport, Miss., said. Cox is white.

Cross-burning has long been an expression of white supremacy used at lynchings and, more generally, to terrorize African Americans including out of white spaces and communities. “As the Klan declined in the late 1920s and 1930s, intimidation became the primary but not exclusive use of the cross,” a Middle Tennessee State University report stated. “In addition, people with no Klan affiliation have burned crosses on the lawns of African Americans moving into all white neighborhoods.”

Harrison County has a 67% white and a 27% Black population. The indictment alleged that Cox burned the cross because of his neighbors’ “race and color and because they are renting and occupying a dwelling” near the defendant’s house, and thereby “did, by force and threat of force, willfully intimidate and interfere with, and attempt to intimidate and interfere with, his Black neighbors,” the indictment continues.

At his initial arraignment on Sept. 23, 2022, before U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Magistrate Robert P. Myers Jr. in Gulfport, Miss., Cox pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge for the alleged incident that occurred in December 2020. The judge remanded him in the custody of the U.S. Marshal after he waived detention hearing, court documents reveal.

The Associated Press first reported the indictment on Sept. 23, 2022, explaining that federal prosecutors said that Cox “violated his neighbors’ housing rights,” the outlet said. “The statute Cox is accused of violating falls under the Civil Rights Act of 1968.”

A federal indictment unveiled on Sept. 23, 2022, indicated that 23-year-old Axel Charles Cox “burned a cross in his front yard, and used threatening and racially derogatory remarks towards” five Black neighbors in Harrison County. Photo Confederate till Death on Wikipedia

“The law says it is illegal for an individual to interfere with any person’s housing rights based on race,” the AP continued.

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