Gulfport man indicted on hate crime charge after burning cross to intimidate, threaten neighbors

A Gulfport man faces more than 20 years in prison and fines if he is convicted of a hate crime.

The Justice Department on Friday announced that Axel C. Cox, 23, has been indicted on charges of criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using fire to commit a federal felony.

The charges stem from a December 3, 2020 incident in which Cox burned a cross in his front yard and used threatening and racially derogatory comments toward his black neighbors in an effort to intimidate them. Allegedly, Cox chose to burn the cross because of the victims’ race.

The housing rights charge comes with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, while the arson charge is a minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge.

He is being held without bond.

This is not Cox’s first run-in with law enforcement. Since 2017, Cox has been in and out of the Harrison County jail seven times. The most recent was in February of this year, when he was charged with receiving stolen property, possessing a controlled substance and possessing a firearm by a convicted felon.

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