Four Prince George's County youths were arrested Wednesday night and charged with attempting to burn a cross on a black family's front lawn in Morningside, a county fire spokesman said yesterday.
"We feel the cross-burning incidents have been occurring because of the movie 'Roots,'" said Morningside Police Chief Donald Jamerson, whose department arrested the youths. "The only thing I can tell you is that since the movie was shown, it's been happening."
The cross-burning incident was the second in Morningside and the fifth in Prince George's County this year.
The two cross-burning of their kind were the only incidents of their kind to occur in Morningside, according to the town's Mayor Gerald Glaubitz, who said there are five black families in the town of more than 1,600 persons.
The four juveniles, all of whom are white, are also charged in a Feb. 8 cross-burning incident at 6311 Woodland Blvd. in Morningside, the official said. In that incident, which occurred while the residents were gone, a cross was burned on the front lawn.
In Wednesday night's incident, the youth's were arrested after a neighbor, who spotted several youths attempting to plant the cross, called police.
Police and the fire department, which investigates cross burning incidents, have declined to release the names of the victims.
The incident follows a recent racially related fight at Benjamin Foulois Junior High School where three of the four juveniles attend. "Parents have been calling us and telling us that the racial incident was due to the movie "Roots," said the school's principal Harold Bayes.
All four youths have been released into the custody of their parents.