Marion PD, community reacts to arrest in cross burning case


MARION, Va. (WJHL) — Hours ago, federal authorities arrested a suspect in the cross burning incident that was reported shortly after the town’s first Black Lives Matter movement protest earlier this month.

James Brown, a resident of the 400 block on Pearl Avenue, was arrested earlier Friday evening on two charges — lying to federal agents and criminal interference on fair housing based on the victim’s race.

News Channel 11 spoke to a fourth-generation business owner, Sarah McNeil, who said the incident is unlike anything the town of Marion has seen.

“For something like that to happen here, it was kind of a shock to some people — most people,” McNeil said. 

Now that investigators have a suspect in custody, McNeil believes the community can move forward.

“I think the police department did a great job of bringing everybody down a level and just getting everybody calm and saying we’re doing the best we can,” McNeil said.

Marion Police Chief John Clair considers the arrest as a break in the almost two-week investigation.

“Now that we have the suspect in custody, it allows us to actually heal from the incident that occurred instead of it being an open wound in this community forever,” Clair said.

News Channel 11 reached out to the victim’s family, who declined to comment; however, Travon Brown continues his leadership within the Black Lives Matter movement, New Panthers, in Marion.

The next march is scheduled for July 3 at 2 p.m. at the Farmers Market Pavilion Stop behind Macado’s. 

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