Man Sentenced for Burning Cross on Front Yard of Black Family

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A Virginia man who burned a cross in the front yard of a Black family was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison this week.

In April, James Brown, 41, pleaded guilty to criminal interference with federally protected housing rights based upon the victim’s race.

Brown confessed to burning the cross to two witnesses. Witnesses also shared that he was known to use racial epithets when referring to the African American family.

The incident occurred on June 14, 2020, a day before one of the family members had organized a civil rights protest in Marion, Virginia.

“When Brown burned a cross in the victim’s front yard, he carried out a despicable act of intimidation, interfered with a federally protected housing right, and broke a serious federal law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bubar said in a statement.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates that such threatening acts of hatred will be swiftly investigated and prosecuted. We thank the FBI and state partners for their hard work on this important case,” he concluded.

Cross burning has been used as a form of intimidation against African Americans and Jewish community members.

It is common for members of the KKK and other white supremacist groups to have tattoo images of Klansmen standing in front of burning crosses.

“We have zero tolerance in our communities for those individuals violating anyone’s civil rights. Investigating allegations of civil rights violations continues to be a top priority for the FBI; and through our community liaison and law enforcement partnerships we will continue to investigate and mitigate the unwanted and unwarranted behavior of racially motivated individuals,” Special Agent in Charge Stanley M. Meador said.

“FBI Richmond encourages anyone who may have knowledge or is a victim of a hate crime, to report it to law enforcement.”

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