Axel C. Cox, 24, has been sentenced in the racially motivated cross burning from December 2020, according to an announcement from the Department of Justice. The department said his actions were a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act.
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, classic KKK style, to intimidate his Black neighbors, per a Department of Justice announcement. The DOJ said his actions qualified as a hate crime because he spat racial slurs after setting the fire.
He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison for interfering with the family’s rights and a minimum of 10 years for using fire to commit a federal level felony, per WLBT News.
In the end, he ended up with the least amount of time: 3 and 1/2 years. I doubt he’ll come out of prison hating Black people any less.
“While one might think cross-burnings and white supremacist threats and violence are things of the past, the unfortunate reality is that these incidents continue today,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The incident was certainly a blast from the past. We haven’t seen cross burning become so common since neighborhoods were integrated for the first time and racist white people tried to drive Black people out of their new homes. Unfortunately, Black people still can’t own homes in peace.
Not too long ago a mixed-race couple was targeted by a white racist stalker, who drove his pickup truck into their home with a teddy bear hanging on a noose from the rear-view mirror. As if his actions were the greater evil, he got sentenced to nine years.
The only argument in Cox’s defense as to why he felt the urge to commit a Jim Crow-esque crime was that he “overreacted” following the fatal shooting of his dog, per the SunHerald. Were the Black people next door the ones responsible? There was no evidence to suggest so.
“Burning a cross invokes the long and painful history, particularly in Mississippi, of intimidation and impending physical violence against Black people,” said Clarke. “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.