Thursday, September 28, 2006

Federal Jury Convicts Two for Cross Burning

To: National Desk

Contact: The U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2007
or 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web: http://www.usdoj.gov

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A federal jury
today convicted Christopher Mitchell and James Bradley
Weems of burning a cross in front of the home of an
African-American man in Fouke, Ark. The jury convicted
each defendant of one count of conspiracy to violate
the victim's civil rights.

The evidence at trial established that on the night of
Aug. 5, 2005, Mitchell and Weems, attended a party
where they discussed an African-American man who lived
nearby, using racial slurs to describe him. The
defendants, along with a third man, Christopher Baird,
who had pleaded guilty to his role in the offense,
used wooden boards to erect a cross. The defendants
then planted the cross near the home of the
African-American man and lit it on fire. Witnesses
testified that as a result of the cross burning, the
African-American victim and the family he lived with
all moved from their home because they were too
frightened to remain in the town.

"Few symbols of racial hatred are as grotesque as a
cross burning," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney
general for the Civil Rights Division. "People have
the right to live where they choose, free from such
threats based on bigotry. The Department of Justice
will continue to vigorously prosecute such offensive
and criminal conduct."

The case was investigated by special agents from the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was
prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Christine Dunn and John
Richmond of the Civil Rights Division of the
Department of Justice.

Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes
is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since
2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 161
defendants in 102 cases of bias- motivated crimes.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

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/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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