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Neighbor threatens Black man with burning cross, swastika, machete in Indiana, feds say

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A man is accused of burning a cross and displaying a swastika in a hate crime against his Black neighbor, federal prosecutors say.

Shepard Hoehn, 50, is charged with making threats because of his neighbor’s race and unlawful firearm possession in Lawrence, Indiana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

Hoehn created a swastika display and burned a cross on the fence line facing his neighbor’s property, prosecutors said in a Thursday news release. He’s also accused in a federal complaint of creating a large sign near the swastika with racial slurs with a machete displayed nearby.

Additionally, Hoehn played the song “Dixie” loudly and repeatedly, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say Hoehn acknowledged he was mad about a dispute with his neighbor and knew his actions would intimidate and cause fear.

Investigators reported finding several firearms and drug paraphernalia while executing a search warrant of Hoehn’s home. They also found out that Hoehn is a fugitive in a Missouri criminal case, and he was prohibited from possessing guns.

“Although the First Amendment protects hateful, ignorant and morally repugnant beliefs and speech, it does not protect those who choose to take criminal actions based on those beliefs,” U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler said in a news release. “This office will continue to prosecute federal hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

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