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Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Civil Rights of African-American Family

WASHINGTON – Ronald Joshua Youngblood, 25, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan to violating the civil rights of an African-American family by burning a cross at the family’s home, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy of the Eastern District of Michigan announced today.

Youngblood admitted today that he conspired with several friends to interfere with the housing rights of an African-American family, and that on June 20, 2006, he and several friends carried out their agreement by burning a five-foot-tall cross in front of the victims’ home. Youngblood also admitted that he set off an explosive device in order to awaken the family so that they would run outside and see the cross.

Youngblood pled guilty to a civil rights conspiracy charge, to one count of interfering with the victims’ housing rights, and to one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. He faces a maximum term of 30 years imprisonment.

“All Americans are entitled to the full protection of our civil rights laws, which include the right to fair housing, without fear of intimidation by displays of hatred and intolerance such as this one,” said Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim. “This prosecution sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this deplorable criminal conduct.”

“As I have said before, the prosecution of cases involving the violation of civil rights laws is among the highest priorities of my office. Those who would violate the housing rights of others on the basis of race should be forewarned that their conduct will be met with criminal prosecution and the full force of federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy. “Cross burnings are especially egregious acts of domestic terror toward others, designed to intimidate people in their homes. These and similar deplorable acts that violate applicable federal laws will not be tolerated.”

This case was investigated by the Sumpter Township Police Department and the Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Thompson and Trial Attorney Barbara Bosserman from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.