The increase of hate crimes against the Black community has been an ongoing concern. Though, to me, the most despicable aspect of the spike is that some of the most hateful acts used to threaten Black people during the Jim Crow era have now resurfaced.
Axel C. Cox, 24, certainly took inspiration from history when he attempted to terrorize his Black next door neighbors.
According to the DOJ, Cox admitted to gathering his supplies to put together a cross, propping it on his yard and dousing it in motor oil to set it on fire.
He pleaded guilty to burning a cross on his front lawn to intimidate his Black neighbors, per a Department of Justice announcement. The DOJ said he violated the Fair Housing Act and committed a hate crime as he used “racially derogatory remarks” during the commission of the crime.
The only argument in his defense was that he had “overreacted” following the fatal shooting of his dog, per the SunHerald. Were the Black people next door the ones responsible? There is no evidence so far of that.
“Burning a cross invokes the long and painful history, particularly in Mississippi, of intimidation and impending physical violence against Black people,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who use racially-motivated violence to drive people away from their homes or communities.”
Read more about the case from the SunHerald:
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors are dismissing a second charge of using fire in the commission of committing a felony, a federal crime that could have resulted in an additional sentence of up to 10 years in prison that must be served consecutively to the sentence on the previous charges.
A federal grand jury indicted him on the offenses in September. FBI Agent Drew Robinson arrested Cox on the federal offenses on Sept. 23 in Wiggins. Gulfport police and FBI agents investigated the case.
Since 2018, Cox has been in and out of jail in Harrison County on various charges that included possession of meth, felony possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, felony receiving stolen property and misdemeanor DUI involving drugs. Cox is already serving time in a Mississippi prison for possessing the stolen property and the drug charge.