ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A man was arrested Friday for allegedly lying to federal agents about his involvement in the burning of a cross on the front lawn of an African-American woman’s home and criminal interference with fair housing based on the victim’s race.
James Brown, of Marion, Virginia, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint in connection to a cross burning on June 14.
Around 12:55 a.m., the Marion Police Department received a report of a burning cross in the front yard of an African-American family, one of whom had organized a civil rights protest the day before. In the following days, working with the FBI, investigators learned of the involvement of Brown. When questioned by investigators if he had anything to do with the cross-burning incident, Brown allegedly lied. Witnesses interviewed during the investigation stated that Brown admitted to the cross burning and used racial epithets when referring to the African American family
“The frightening act at the center of today’s complaint—a racially motivated cross burning—interfered with the victim’s federally protected right to fair housing,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “Acts of violence, threats, and other forms of intimidation prompted by racial animus are serious federal crimes, and we will continue to work closely with the FBI to hold offenders accountable.”
“The FBI is committed to protecting all citizens, and will aggressively investigate acts of intimidation or violence against anyone based on race or ethnicity,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Mathison said today. “We thank the Marion County Police Department, the Smyth County Sheriff's Office and the United States Attorney's Office's Western District of Virginia for their swift and direct attention to this incident.”
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.