GULFPORT, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, a Mississippi man was sentenced for burning a cross in his front yard with the intent to intimidate a Black family.

Prosecutors said Axel Cox, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Halil S. Ozerden to 42 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and restitution in the amount of $7,810.

Court documents stated that Cox violated the Fair Housing Act when he used threatening and racially derogatory language toward his Black neighbors and burned a cross to intimidate them. The incident happened in Gulfport on December 3, 2020.

Prosecutors said Cox admitted that he lit the cross on fire because the victims were Black and that he intended to scare them into moving out of the neighborhood.

“This cross burning was an abhorrent act that used a traditional symbol of hatred and violence to stoke fear and drive a Black family out of their home,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “While one might think cross-burnings and white supremacist threats and violence are things of the past, the unfortunate reality is that these incidents continue today. This sentence demonstrates the importance of holding people accountable for threatening the safety and security of Black people in their homes because of the color of their skin or where they are from.”

A federal grand jury indicted Cox on September 20, 2022.