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Gulfport man sentenced to 42 months after burning cross to intimidate Black neighbors

Axel Cox (Photo courtesy of the Harrison Co. Sheriff's Office)

A Gulfport man will spend the next 42 months behind bars after burning a cross in his front yard in an attempt to intimidate his Black neighbors.

On Dec. 3, 2020, 24-year-old Axel Cox violated the Fair Housing Act when he used threatening and racially derogatory language toward the family before burning the cross in his yard.

According to court documents, Cox had a verbal dispute with the family prior to wedging two pieces of wood together, placing it in clear view of the victims’ residence, dousing it in oil, and setting it alight. Cox later admitted that he was trying to get them to move out of the neighborhood.

“This cross burning was an abhorrent act that used a traditional symbol of hatred and violence to stoke fear and drive a Black family out of their home,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. “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. This sentence demonstrates the importance of holding people accountable for threatening the safety and security of Black people in their homes because of the color of their skin or where they are from.”

Cox was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Halil S. Ozerden. He is also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,810.

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