Axel C. Cox, 23, burned a cross in his own front yard and directed racist threats at black neighbors. He was last week indicted on charges of criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using fire to commit a federal felony, things he doubtlessly thought were covered under the aegis of free speech.
The housing rights charge comes with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, while the arson charge is a minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge. He is being held without bond.
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.
Trial's set for November.
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 of the Mississippi Center for Justice told the Associated Press. "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."