Man gets 11 years for his part in cross burning

Victim’s grandmother says she fears man and accomplice will return to harm her family

By Emily Wagster Pettus
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A white Mississippi man received an 11-year prison sentence Tuesday for his part in burning a cross near the home of an African American family.

Louie Bernard Revette, 38, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett in Hattiesburg, the Justice Department said.

Revette pleaded guilty in April to one count each of interference with housing rights, which is a federal civil rights violation, and of using fire during the commission of a federal felony.

Revette acknowledged recruiting someone to help him build a cross to burn near the home of a teenager in a predominantly black area of Seminary on Oct. 24, 2017. He also acknowledged building the cross to threaten, frighten and intimidate people because of their race.

Revette expressed remorse at his sentencing hearing, the Hattiesburg American reported.

“I want everyone to know I’m not proud of what happened,” Revette said. “I hate what I did. I can’t even believe I did that. I never done anything like that before in my life.”

Seminary is a town of with about 300 residents, located about 70 miles south of Jackson.

Revette’s accomplice, Graham Williamson, pleaded guilty to the same two charges in August and is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

None of the victim’s relatives were in court Tuesday, but the newspaper reported that the victim’s grandmother, Rose Marie Shears, told the U.S. attorney’s office that the cross burning revived fear and terror of the past. She told prosecutors that she is afraid that Revette and Williamson or others will return and harm the family.

Cross burnings have historically been used by racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to rally supporters and terrorize black people in the South and elsewhere.

“Those who instill fear and terror into our neighbors and our fellow citizens because of the color of their skin will face the full weight and force of the law from the U.S. attorney’s office,” Mike Hurst, U.S. attorney for south Mississippi, said in a Justice Department statement Tuesday. “There is absolutely no place in our society or our country for this type of behavior, and we will do all that we can to prevent these racist acts and bring to justice those who are intent on committing these crimes.”

In 2017, a man pleaded guilty to federal charges after prosecutors said he and three other men burned a cross more than 6 feet high in the front yard of an interracial couple’s home in Port Richey, Florida, in 2012.

Other cross burnings in the past decade have occurred in Richmond Hill, Georgia; Minor Hill, Tennessee; Woodland, Pennsylvania; Salado, Arkansas; and Bennington Township, Ohio, among other places, according to Justice Department records.

Eric Dreiband, an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, said in the statement that Revette “terrorized members of a community simply because of their race and where they lived.”

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate these acts of hate, and we will continue to prosecute hate crimes like these to the fullest extent of the law,” Dreiband said.