The Justice Department has announced that Axel C. Cox has been charged with hate crime and arson violations for burning a cross in his front yard in an attempt to intimidate his Black neighbors in Gulfport.
According to court documents, Cox is charged with one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony. It is alleged that on December 3, 2020, Cox threatened, intimidated, and interfered with a Black family’s enjoyment of their housing rights by means of cross-burning, an action conceived by the Ku Klux Klan.
The indictment also states that the 23-year-old used threatening and racially derogatory remarks toward his Black neighbors and that the victims’ race was the motive behind Cox’s heinous actions.
If convicted, Cox faces up to 10 years in prison for interfering with the victims’ housing rights and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for using fire to commit a federal felony. Cox also faces a fine of up to $250,000 with respect to each charge.
Leading the prosecution for this case are Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Cabell Jones for the Southern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Noah Coakley II of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.