Six men arrived after midnight at Eva Hurst’s northwest Georgia mountain home to leave a burning cross to warn her daughter, who was seeing a biracial man, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Moments after the fire was lit, one man panicked and called 911, fearing that the fire would endanger a nearby house. The six men were indicted yesterday on federal civil rights charges. “They should be on the ‘world’s dumbest criminals’ TV show — burning a cross, then calling the law on themselves,” Hurst said.
Hurst, 53, whose late father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, said the cross burning wasn’t Klan-related. Authorities agree. “I was raised around the Klan,” she said. “The Klan had morals. If a man was drinking up his paycheck and abused his kids, the Klan stepped in.”
The Dade County, Ga., sheriff said some of the suspects had expressed remorse over the Nov. 5 incident. The men, ranging in age from 25 to 41, face up to 10 years in prison on each charge if convicted. U.S. Attorney Bill Duffey in Atlanta said such acts “degrade us as a society” and that “we will prosecute that conduct forcefully.”
The county as of 2000 had 96 black residents out of a population of 15,154. The county has sometimes been called the “state of Dade” because of its remote location in the northwestern tip of Georgia. Local lore has it that Dade did not “officially” rejoin the Union until 1945, 80 years after the end of the Civil War.