Men accused in cross burning near Bemidji charged with felonies
Judge sets bail during Friday court hearings
BEMIDJI - A defense attorney on Friday called the recent cross-burning incident an offensive "juvenile prank" while the prosecuting attorney called it a "crime of hatred and intolerance."
Two Bemidji men were arraigned Friday in Beltrami County District Court for their alleged roles in the May 25 cross-burning in Northern Township.
Derek Daniel Barnes, 20, was charged with felony stalking/harassment while Ryan Fairbanks Andree, 19, was charged with felony aiding and abetting stalking/harassment.
Both appeared separately in court before Beltrami County District Judge John Melbye.
According to the criminal complaints, Barnes constructed the 8-foot-tall cross while Andree was present. Barnes told Andree that he intended to use the cross to scare a particular African-American woman at a residence in Northern Township.
Barnes then drew swastikas on the cross and wrote racial epithets and threats on it, according to the complaints.
Barnes, with assistance from Andree and another individual, placed the cross in Barnes' vehicle and then Barnes and Andree drove to the residence, where Barnes removed the cross from his car and propped the cross against that tree in the residence's yard, according to the complaints.
Barnes placed accelerants on the cross while Andree attempted to videotape it on his cell phone, according to the complaints.
Barnes then lit the cross, got back in the car and he and Andree fled the scene, according to the complaint.
The intended target was not home, but a woman who was home ran out and doused the flames with water from a garden hose.
The woman is white. Her two adult daughters are mixed-race with a black father.
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