Marion man pleads guilty following 2020 cross burning

(Marion PD)
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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ABINGDON, Va. (WDBJ) - A Marion man pleaded guilty Thursday to using force or the threat of force to interfere with federally protected housing rights based on the race or color of the victims.

June 14, 2020, 41-year-old James Brown burned a cross in the front yard of an African-American family’s home. A member of the family had organized a civil rights protest the day before in Marion. According to evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing, Brown admitted to burning the cross to two witnesses. He was also known to use racial epithets when referring to the family.

“Acts of hatred, intimidation and the threat of force, carried out by the racially motivated cross burning in this case, illegally interfered with their federally protected housing rights,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said. “This illegal, divisive behavior destroys communities and will not be tolerated. I’m proud of the work of the FBI and our state partners, who brought James Brown to justice.”

“There is absolutely no room for racial intimidation or injustice occurring in our communities,” Stanley M. Meador, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division said Thursday. “FBI Richmond is steadfast in our commitment of protecting residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of race or ethnicity; and will continue to work with our investigative and prosecutorial partners to hold accountable the offenders who attempt to fracture our communities.”

Brown pleaded guilty to one count of criminal interference with federally protected housing rights based upon the victim’s race.

The FBI, Marion Police Department and Smyth County Sheriff’s Office are working on the case.

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