Man charged in Miss. cross burning pleads guilty to federal hate crime

Man charged in Miss. cross burning pleads guilty to federal hate crime
Two suspects have admitted to burning a cross in a predominantly African American area of Seminary. (Source: WDAM)

SEMINARY, Miss. (WDAM) - A second suspect pleaded guilty Monday to burning a cross in a predominantly African American area of Seminary on Oct. 24, 2017.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Graham Williamson, 38, pleaded guilty to interference with housing rights, a federal civil rights violation, and conspiring to use fire to commit a felony. Louie Bernard Revette pleaded guilty to the same charges in April.

Both men face decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for the crimes. Revette is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5, and Williamson’s sentencing is set for Nov. 5.

According to the DOJ, Williamson admitted he and Revette built the cross from materials found at Revette’s home and burned it in the Keys Hill area of Seminary in an attempt to threaten, frighten and intimidate a juvenile and other African American residents in the area.

“The defendant used a violent symbol of racial intimidation to threaten these victims and inspire fear, while they resided in the security of their own homes,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice does not tolerate these hateful and historically egregious acts and will continue to vigorously prosecute criminals who violate the civil rights of peaceful community members.”

“Those who commit criminal acts based on race to intimidate and scare our fellow citizens will face swift and certain justice from this U.S. Attorney’s Office. These types of hateful actions have no place in our communities, and we will continue to fight for and uphold the civil rights of all throughout our State,” said Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The cross burning was investigated by the FBI Jackson Division’s Hattiesburg Resident Agency and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Gregory Mayberry for the Southern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Julia Gegenheimer from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Crimes motivated by hate are intended to intimidate their victims and spread fear in the community, undermining societal values,” said FBI Jackson Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven Jensen. “The FBI will continue its aggressive investigations of acts like these in pursuit of justice for the victims and the integrity of civil rights for all.”

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