The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia announced Friday that a Marion man will be spending the next 18 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to burning a cross in the front yard of a Black family’s home the day after a civil rights protest in June of last year.
According to the office’s statement, 41-year-old James Brown pleaded guilty in April to criminal interference with federally protected housing rights based upon the victims’ race.
Apparently, Brown was not happy about one of the Black family members organizing a protest the day before the incident, and he decided to show his contempt for anti-racism demonstrations by being blatantly racist and showing off his bigotry Ku Klux klan-style. And because racists tend to not be very smart people, Brown bragged to at least two witnesses that he burned the cross in the family’s yard in the morning of June 14, 2020. According to the press release, he was known around the neighborhood for using racial slurs in reference to the family, who he admitted he tried to intimidate during his plea hearing.
“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 Daniel P. Bubar stated Friday. “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.”
Brown’s Klan-ish behavior was reportedly investigated by the FBI, the Marion Police Department and the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office. Special Agent in Charge Stanley M. Meador is quoted in the attorney’s office’s statement saying, “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,” Meador continued. “FBI Richmond encourages anyone who may have knowledge or is a victim of a hate crime, to report it to law enforcement.”
People like Brown probably long for the day when unabashed white supremacists could terrorize Black people at will and it wouldn’t even make the news let alone end in actual punishment. America still has a long way to go before it even resembles a nation of equality for all, but at the very least, holding people like Brown accountable for their racist actions looks like a step in the right direction.
We really don’t care that racists are mad at anti-racism efforts as long as they’re brought to justice when that anger causes them to explicitly demonstrate why these protests exist in the first place.