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CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT FILED ON TWO MEN

March 17, 2011

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that Jason Walter Barnwell, age 37, of Evening Shade, Arkansas, and Gary Don Dodson, age 32, of Waldron, Arkansas, appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge Beth Deere for an initial appearance on federal civil rights charges.

Barnwell and Dodson were arrested yesterday on a federal Complaint charging them with use of a destructive incendiary device in the course of a conspiracy to deprive a Hardy, Arkansas couple of their civil rights. In addition, each defendant was charged with interfering with the housing rights of the couple; with using fire in the commission of a felony; and with being a felon in possession of an unregistered destructive device. If convicted, the two face a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 40 years imprisonment and/or up to a $750,000 fine.

“As a civilized society, we simply cannot tolerate such blatant acts of hatred and intimidation. This joint investigation demonstrates how seriously all levels and branches of law enforcement consider these acts of prejudice, intolerance, and intimidation,” stated Thyer.

The charges stem from an incident where a mixed-race family living near Hardy, Arkansas, was awakened by an unusual noise close to midnight on the night of January 14, 2011. Upon investigating the sound, the family found that a Molotov cocktail device had been thrown through a window of their home and a portion of their home was on fire. The couple was able to extinguish the fire. No one was physically injured by the fire. As they stepped outside their home to investigate, the couple was barraged with racial slurs and was threatened with future violence if the couple did not leave Arkansas.

After their initial appearance the defendants were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending detention hearings anticipated to be conducted next week.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; along with the Arkansas State Police; the Hardy and Waldron Police Departments; and the Scott and Sharp County Sheriff’s Offices.

The charges set forth in a Complaint are merely allegations. A federal Grand Jury will decide whether to indict the men on these charges. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Christopher R. Thyer

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas is pleased to bring you

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