GULFPORT, Miss. (WJTV) – A Mississippi man is being charged with a federal hate crime and arson violations for allegedly burning a cross in his front yard while using derogatory remarks toward his Black neighbors in Gulfport.

According to court documents, Axel C. Cox, 23, is accused of threatening, interfering or intimidating a Black family in Gulfport with the burning cross on December 3, 2020. He allegedly chose to burn the cross because of the victims’ race.

Cox is charged with criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using fire to commit a felony.

If convicted, Cox could face a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison for using fire to commit a federal felony and up to ten years for interfering with the victims’ housing rights. He could also face a $250,000 fine for each charge.