A burning cross in a family's yard is no laughing matter. But a Florida man may have managed to create some humor using a symbol that has such a solemn past.
LB Williams, was charged with domestic violence stalking and exhibits that intimidate after he burned a cross in his own yard to scare his wife, Newsherald.com reports.
Williams, a 50-year-old black man, and his wife Donna, who is white, found a cross burning in their driveway Nov. 4 outside their Florida home. Donna Williams said the family was shaken by the incident.
"When I saw that cross burning, I was scared to death," she told the Panama City News Herald. "I was terrified...we all were."
After the couple reported the incident, police began a hate crime investigation. But the issue was far from being resolved.
Two days later, Donna said she received a note taped to the front door that was signed "KKK." The note said she was being watched and that she "better not leave that [N-word]," a warning that struck Donna as odd.
"When did the KKK start supporting black and white, interracial marriages," she wondered.
On Monday, LB Williams admitted to setting the fire and posting the note in an effort to keep his wife of seven years from filing for divorce. He was arrested and later released from Bay County Jail Nov. 15 without bond. As a condition of the domestic violence charge, he is not allowed to go home.
The news outlet was unable to reach him for comment.
Despite this incident, other families haven't faired so well. In 2007, a New York man was arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated harassment for burning a cross on a black family's front lawn. A month earlier, another white man was arrested on the same charge after his sister had been in a fight with a black student at school.
A similar case occurred in California when four people burned a cross outside the Arroyo Grande home of a 19-year-old woman. The defendants argued in court that cross burning was protected under the First Amendment as a form of "symbolic" free speech, but the court disagreed.
Cross burning is widely associated with the Ku Klux Klan. The group commonly used it as a symbol of intimidation in the early 20th century near the homes of black families. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of outlawing public cross burning with intent to intimidate.
As for Donna Williams, she has no hard feelings towards her husband.
"He truly is a good man. He doesn't drink, he doesn't do drugs and he works like a dog," she told the News Herald. "We just can't be together."
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