HAWTHORNE, N.Y. – A 21-year-old white man was arrested Thursday on a hate crime charge after a burning cross was found in a black family's front yard.
Christopher Hudak is the brother of a girl who was involved in a school fight with a boy from the family just hours before the cross appeared last week, police Capt. Keith Corlett said at a news conference.
Cross burnings are seen as expressions of racism, made well-known by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Hudak was charged with aggravated harassment, Corlett said. Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said the case would be prosecuted as a hate crime.
"No matter what issues, concerns or beliefs people may have toward one another, no family, individual or persons should be subjected to, or should have to tolerate, any act of hate — particularly one of this nature," Corlett said.
Timothy Artope had admitted fighting with two girls on Nov. 21, saying one used a racial slur. That night, his family found the 4-foot (1.2-meter) wooden cross burning in their yard.
Corlett said Hudak, who is unemployed, "fabricated an alibi" that disintegrated during the investigation. Police then obtained a warrant and found computer records that led to his arrest.