Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FBI joins probe of California cross burning

The FBI has joined a hate crime investigation after a cross was burned outside the home of a black family in a prosperous, mainly white Central California coastal community, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Police were doing extra patrols in the neighborhood and $3,500 in rewards was being offered after an 11-foot cross was stolen from a church then burned early Friday in a lot next to the home.

A 19-year-old woman awoke and saw the flaming cross from her bedroom window, police Cmdr. John Hough told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Arriving officers found fallen, burning pieces of wood on the ground and doused them with a garden hose.

"Burning crosses, swastikas on synagogue walls, hateful words on mosques doors are not pranks. They are hate crimes meant to frighten and intimidate," said an e-mail sent to The Tribune by 31 members of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association.

It was the first reported hate crime since 2002 in Arroyo Grande and shocked the community of 17,000 people.

Read more: FBI joins probe of California cross burning

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