Two white men in Mississippi are facing federal hate crime charges in connection with burning a cross in a Black neighborhood.
In April 2019, Louie Bernard Revette (above right), 37, pleaded guilty to one count of interference with housing rights and one count of using fire during the commission of a federal felony, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Then on June 25, Graham Williamson (above left) was charged with intimidating/interfering with fair housing and conspiracy to use fire or explosives to commit a felony.
According to court documents obtained by the Hattiesburg American, Williamson and other suspects “attempted to and did, by force and threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate and interfere with African-American residents” in Seminary because of their race.
Although it remains unclear when the conspiracy to burn the cross began, the actual incident took place on Oct. 24, 2017, according to federal documents
The documents state Williamson and Revette built a wooden cross from materials found at Revette's home and transported the cross to the Keys Hill area of Seminary, an area known to be predominantly Black.
They lit the cross in the grass of an interstate outside the home of a Black juvenile, who was identified only as M.H. in court documents.
As stated in Revette’s plea agreement, he admitted to recruiting a co-conspirator to build a cross to burn near the home of the juvenile victim. Revette also admitted to knowing the history of cross burning and how it was used to terrorize Black Americans.
Revette said he and Williamson burned the cross to threaten, frighten and intimidate M.H. and other Black residents.
Williamson has not yet pleaded to the charges. Both men face up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Revette's sentencing is set for Aug. 20. According to court records, Revette is being held in federal custody until his sentencing due to risks he will flee or endanger others.
"There is a serious risk that the defendant will not appear," reads the detention order. "(And) there is a serious risk that the defendant will endanger the safety of another person or the community."