A second Mississippi man has pleaded guilty to crimes related to a cross burning on Oct. 24, 2017, in the small town of Seminary, Miss.
Yesterday, August 6, Graham Williamson admitted that he and a co-conspirator carried out the racially motivated crime in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Williamson, 38, admitted that he built and burned the cross to threaten, frighten, and intimidate M.H., a juvenile victim, and other African American residents because of their race and color of their skin. He pleaded guilty to one count of interference with housing rights, a federal civil rights violation, and one count of conspiring to use fire to commit a federal felony.
Williamson acknowledged that he knew burning crosses have historically been used to threaten, frighten, and intimidate African Americans.
“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 in a statement. “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,” added Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
FBI Jackson Division Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin also commented. “Crimes motivated by hate are intended to intimidate their victims and spread fear in the community, undermining societal values,” she said. “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.”
Williamson faces a maximum total sentence of 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the two charges. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 5.
Williamson’s co-conspirator, Louis Bernard Revette, pleaded guilty in April. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000. Revette will be sentenced Sept. 10.
For more information about Department of Justice’s work to combat and prevent hate crimes, visit www.justice.gov/hatecrimes, a one-stop portal with links to Department of Justice hate crimes resources for law enforcement, media, researchers, victims, advocacy groups, and other organizations and individuals.See a typo? Report it here.