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Michigan Man Sentenced to 36 Months Imprisonment for Cross-burning

WASHINGTON – Ronald Joshua Youngblood, 26, of Ypsilanti, Mich., was sentenced today to 36 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to violating the housing rights of an African-American family by burning a cross at the family’s home, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker, of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The sentence arises out of an incident that occurred on June 20, 2006, when Youngblood and several friends burned a five-foot-tall cross in front of the victims’ residence in an attempt to drive the victims out of their home. The defendant also set off an explosive device to awaken the family members so that they would run outside and see the burning cross.

“Crimes of hate have no place in a free society. In this country, all Americans should be able to live in peace, where they choose, without fear of intimidation and violence. The federal government will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, and today's sentence sends the message that those who commit criminal acts will pay a price,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“Today’s sentence gives real life and meaning to our Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the laws, and our society’s rejection of racial intimidation in any form,” said Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “One would hope that federal convictions and sentences for cross burnings would be nothing more than an ugly topic for historical study, but sadly, they are not. And as long as there are those who would violate the rights and security of their neighbors out of some kind of intolerance or discrimination, my office will be there to prosecute them and see to it that their crimes are punished.”

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.