Three men have been arrested and charged in connection to a burning cross spotted off the side of a highway in southern New Jersey.
State Police spokesman Stephen Jones says three men were seen near the 8-by-4-foot wooden cross, which was set ablaze off Route 9 around 8 p.m. Wednesday night.
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Investigators believe the three men were targeting an African-American family who moved to the neighborhood six months ago. The cross was placed a few yards away from their home.
Jones says troopers patrolling the area stopped the men to question them.
All three are charged with committing a hate crime, arson and conspiracy to commit arson. The charges carry a three- to five-year sentence upon conviction.
A woman living at the home and her neighbor declined to speak on camera, but said, “It’s sad and disturbing that something like this can still happen in 2011.”