Gulfport man sentenced 42 months for burning cross to intimidate Black family

Axel Cox
Axel Cox(WLOX)
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:17 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Axel Cox, 24, has been sentenced to 42 months in prison followed by three years supervised release and ordered to pay $7,810 in restitution for burning a cross in his front yard in an attempt to intimidate a Black family.

The incident took place on Dec. 3, 2020. According to court documents, Cox violated the Fair Housing Act when he used threatening and racially derogatory language toward his Black neighbors and burned a cross to intimidate them.

After a dispute with the family, Cox wedged two pieces of wood together to form a cross, placed it in clear view of the family’s residence, doused it in oil and set flames to it, all while yelling threats and racial slurs towards the victims’ house.

Cox admitted that he lit the cross on fire because the victims were Black and that he intended to scare them into moving out of the neighborhood.

“Mr. Axel Cox sought to intimidate members of the community through his intimidating threats,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI Jackson Field Office. “The FBI prioritizes the protection of civil rights to ensure citizens remain safe without fear of any harm. We remain committed to tirelessly thwarting the nefarious actions of those, like Mr. Cox, who intended to impact fear upon citizens based on biases.”

“No one should endure such hatred and intimidation because of the color of his skin,” said U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca for the Southern District of Mississippi. “This defendant has been held accountable. His sentence should permeate among his kind and declare that Mississippi and the Department of Justice will not tolerate this hateful behavior.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Cabell Jones for the Southern District of Mississippi and former Trial Attorney Noah Coakley II of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.

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