ABINGDON, Va. — A federal grand jury indicted a Marion man on charges related to last month’s cross burning in the yard of a neighbor who organized a Black Lives Matter rally in their town in Southwest Virginia.
James Brown, 40, was indicted on charges of lying to federal agents, criminal interference with fair housing based on the victim’s race and possessing firearms while unlawfully using a controlled substance, according to a document filed Tuesday with U.S. District Court in Abingdon.
The cross burning was reported in the early morning hours of June 14.
Brown, who is white, is accused of burning a cross in the yard of Travon Brown, a Black teenager who led a Black Lives Matter demonstration June 13. The two are not related.
Federal authorities filed charges against James Brown last month, and a grand jury formally indicted him Tuesday.
At a preliminary hearing June 30, a federal agent told the court that Brown admitted to two witnesses that he burned the cross.
Magistrate Judge Pamela Sargent granted bond at $25,000 at the same hearing and required that he stay away from Travon Brown’s family and witnesses.
Travon Brown has since continued his activism and led more than 200 people in a peaceful march earlier this month in Marion.
“When someone burnt that cross in my yard, that motivated me to go harder, that motivated me to go stronger for people of color, for African Americans,” he told the Bristol Herald Courier.
The indictment says Brown “burned a cross in front of the house of victims … both of whom were African American.”
The new weapons charge stems from incidents on June 26 and July 2. Brown had a .22 caliber revolver and a 410 shotgun, the indictment states. He is “knowingly an unlawful user of a controlled substance,” according to the indictment.
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