Brandon Lecroy of Greenwood, S.C., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to hiring someone to murder his Black neighbor. U.S. Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, who handed Lecroy his sentence, qualified the offense as a federal hate crime. Ten years is the maximum sentence for the crime.
The 26-year-old man was arrested last year after his plot to murder a Black man referred to only as “FJ” was discovered. Lecroy had reached out to the South Carolina branch of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) for assistance with lynching his neighbor.
According to the arrest warrant, an FBI agent, who was posing as a hitman and working for the domestic terrorism task force, spoke with Lecroy over the phone. He told the undercover agent, “$500 and he’s a ghost.” He made arrangements to pay the “hitman” an initial $100 and it was there he was apprehended.
Brandon Lecroy Complaint by on Scribd.
Lecroy’s attorney, Erica Soderdahl, insisted that this isn’t a hate crime nor was it based on race. And adding insult to injury, Soderdahl implied that her defendant was merely: “Only trying to get rid of an extremely troublesome neighbor who happened to be African American.”
Ironically, he attempted to hire the KKK to lynch him in Greenwood County, South Carolina — a county with the highest number of lynchings in the state during the Jim Crow era. So that defense just doesn’t cut it.
“The neighbor kept coming onto his property, trying to start fights, and asking for food and to use the phone. Lecroy had repeatedly tried to get local police to keep the neighbor from trespassing, to no avail,” Soderdahl elaborated.
“But FJ kept coming back,” said the attorney. “It’s not about an overriding feeling toward a race — it’s about one individual.”
According to testimony, the police, allegedly, didn’t help Lecroy so he took matters into his own hands.
On the contrary, federal prosecutor William Watkins felt race had everything to do with the attempted murder.
“Your honor, the fact that he reached out to the KKK — this is not a low-functioning individual,” said Watkins, an assistant U.S. Attorney. “It’s telling that to get a Black person eliminated, he turned to the KKK.”
In recent years, a number of high-profile attacks and plots have been linked to white supremacy in America. This includes the 2015 church shooting in Charleston where self-proclaimed white supremacist, Dylann Roof, killed nine parishioners, a gunman who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in November, as well as a Coast Guard officer in Maryland who was accused two months ago of compiling a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists.
In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 1,020 hate groups across the United States — including 17 in South Carolina. That’s compared to the 599 groups identified in 2000 by the organization.
The nonprofit in February also reported that its tracking of hate groups has grown in each of the past four years.
This speaks to a much bigger problem in our country now. With President Trump provoking white supremacists by manipulating imagery and words, these people are no longer sitting on the sidelines or among each other just complaining about others. Their contempt and hate has turned deadly.