Police, FBI investigate burning cross found at Black Lives Matter protester’s home

A burning cross was found in the yard of a Virginia teen who helped organize his town’s Black Lives Matter protest, police said.

An “intense fire” emanating from a barrel was spotted early Sunday in front of a home in Marion, where officers responded, put out the blaze and found wood that “appeared to be in the shape of a cross,” Marion police said Monday.

The barrel was found outside the home of 17-year-old Travon Brown, who helped organize a rally Saturday against racial injustice and police brutality in his Virginia town, the Bristol Herald Courier reports.

Brown’s mother, Bridgette Thomas, said she thought her house was on fire when she spotted the blaze.

“It was so scary, my daughter was in there,” Thomas said of her 16-year-old.

The cross was made from two large sticks, Thomas said.

“It was scary, though, and then to find out it was a cross,” she told the newspaper. “It made me feel some type of way because it was so close to my house. My house could have caught on fire.”

Marion police are now coordinating with federal authorities and the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a “full and thorough” investigation, Police Chief John Clair said.

“The town of Marion Police Department is absolutely committed to ensuring that people of color in our community are safe,” Clair said in a statement.

Virginia law bars cross-burning in public spaces or on another person’s property. Anyone found guilty of doing so can be sentenced to five years in prison or receive up to a $2,500 fine, the newspaper reports.

Brown, meanwhile, told WJHL he believes the cross was set ablaze in his yard as a scare tactic.

“It didn’t work,” Brown told the station. “The scaring tactic didn’t work. It only made me stronger.”

FBI officials confirmed they are investigating the incident, but declined further comment, WJHL reports.

Brown had also recently attended a rally in Johnson City, Tennessee, to protest racial injustice prior to Sunday’s early morning discovery outside his home. He has vowed to keep “planning more things” despite the harrowing incident.

“Thank you to everyone who continues to support this powerful movement,” Brown told the station in a statement Monday. “We are safe. The FBI and Marion PD are working together to find out who did this … Black lives matter and justice shall prevail. Stay safe!”

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