Five plead innocent to plotting to burn cross
They conspired to intimidate mother of 3 biracial children, U.S. indictment says
by Amy Upshaw
TEXARKANA – Five men pleaded innocent Friday to federal charges accusing them of plotting to burn a cross last summer in the yard of a white woman who had three biracial children.
A federal indictment unsealed Friday says the men built the cross and attempted to set it on fire to scare then-23-year-old Loretta Marie Slaughter-Shirah into moving out of the Donaldson community.
On June 15, Jacob Wingo, Dustin Nix, Darren McKim, Richard Robins and Clayton Morrison, “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire and agree to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate [Slaughter-Shirah] and her children in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right secured by the Constitution … because of race and color,” a portion of the indictment reads.
The indictment also says that while four of the men were at McKim’s house that day, they talked about forcing the family out of the neighborhood because there were “‘niggers’ at the residence.”
Wingo’s mother, Yvette Briggs, said Friday afternoon that her son and his friends were joking when they came up with the idea for the cross.
“It wasn’t meant as racist,” Briggs said. “He made a very fool- ish mistake. He didn’t mean it as a threat at all.”
Slaughter-Shirah could not be reached for comment, but she previously told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she moved away from Donaldson because she no longer felt safe there.
When the events took place last year, she had lived in the mostly white community of about 300 people for only a few weeks. Donaldson is about 15 miles northeast of Arkadelphia…..