A Mississippi man headed to jail after confessing to burning a cross outside the home of an African-American family said he wishes he could take it all back.
Louis Revette, 38, was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison on Tuesday, months after he and a co-conspirator pleaded guilty to carrying out the racist act. Revette was convicted on one count of using fire in the commission of a federal felony, interference with housing rights and a federal civil rights violation in the October 2017 incident, the Clarion Ledger reported.
The defendant expressed remorse during sentencing, as his family and friends wept in the crowd.
“I want everyone to know I’m not proud of what happened,” he told the court. “I hate what I did. I cannot even believe I did that. I’ve never done anything like that before in my life.”
Revette entered a guilty plea in April, in which he admitted to going to a majority-Black neighborhood in Seminary, Mississippi, to burn crosses. He said that he and accomplice Graham Williams, who’d also pleaded guilty, constructed the cross using materials from Revette’s home then burned it near the homes of African-Americans in the area, including the home of a juvenile victim.
Both men said they carried out the racist practice in an attempt “threaten, frighten and intimidate” Black residents because of their race and color.
“Those who instill fear and terror into our neighbors and our fellow citizens because of the color of their skin will face the full weight and force of the law from the U.S. attorney’s office,’ Mike Hurst, U.S. attorney for Southern Mississippi, said in a statement from the Justice Department. “There is absolutely no place in our society or our country for this type of behavior, and we will do all that we can to prevent these racist acts and bring to justice those who are intent on committing these crimes.”
Despite their admissions, Judge Keith Starrett determined Revette and Williams’ crime wasn’t solely driven by race, although he didn’t elaborate on other possible factors. Regardless of the M.O., Starrett called cross burning “a big deal” and scolded Revette for his cowardice.
“It is not an act of courage to come in the night and try to intimidate somebody,” he told the defendant.
According to the Clarion Ledger, prosecutors pushed for a harsher sentence for Revette, arguing that he was instrumental in committing the crime and had actively recruited others to join him in the act. Rose Marie Shears, the grandmother of the juvenile victim, also said she wanted to see Revette and his partner put away for a long time — 20 to 40 years to be exact.
She said she feared the two might return and further terrorize her family.
“I thought that ‘those days’ were over,” she told federal prosecutor Julia Gegenheimer of the duo’s crime. “This act has brought it all back.”
Revette’s co-conspirator, Graham Williams, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5. He faces up to 30 years in prison.