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Anderson County Man Receives Six-Month Prison Sentence for Cross-Burning

KNOXVILLE -— Steven D. Archer, 50, of Heiskell, Tennessee, was sentenced on Friday, March 18, 2011 by the Honorable Thomas W. Phillips, U.S. District Judge, to serve six months in federal prison, followed by six months of community confinement. This sentence follows Archer's July 1, 2011, conviction for willfully interfering with a couple's federal housing rights because of their race by burning a wooden cross outside the Anderson County residence occupied by the victims—a Caucasian female and an African-American male.

The cross-burning occurred on July 23, 2008. The proof at trial demonstrated that Archer built a wooden cross at his place of business and transported it to the front yard of the victims' residence. The evidence also showed that before setting fire to the cross, Archer wrapped the cross in fuel-soaked cloth and attached .22 caliber blank shells to the cross, which exploded as the cross burned. Archer admitted burning the cross, but denied a racial motivation. A federal court jury found otherwise and convicted Archer of violating the victims' federal housing rights.

"Cross-burning is a despicable act of hatred and intolerance," said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian, and further added, "Americans of all races should be free to live where they choose, undisturbed by such deplorable conduct. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, will aggressively investigate cross-burnings and all other hate crimes."

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Trey Hamilton represented the United States.

Published March 19, 2011

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