A man and women were convicted this month of violating the state Georgia’s street-gang terrorism law after they waved Confederate flags, threatened, and spat racial slurs at people attending a child’s birthday party in Douglasville. On Monday, both could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, are the last two suspects of a total of 15 people who rode by in pickup trucks to a black child’s outdoor birthday party at a Douglasville park in July 2015. Not only did the suspects yell racist names at the party-goers, but some of them pulled out shotguns and threatened to kill people, making it appropriate to charge them under the street-gang terrorism law, according to Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner.
“Members of the group pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the victims. They used racial slurs and threatened to kill some of the party-goers. They even threatened to kill children at the party. This is behavior that even supporters of the Confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed.”
Although some supporters of the Confederate flag claimed that the suspects were protected under the First Amendment, Assistant District Attorney David Emadi stated that the case didn’t hinge upon that because the people in the community “have to live free from fear that at any moment they will be assaulted, threatened and possibly killed simply because of the color of their skin.”
Melissa Alford, the host of the child’s birthday party, told AJC in 2015 that she had no issues with people who wanted to make a statement about the Confederate flag. She did, however, have issues with them disturbing the party and threatening people.
“If they want to make a statement that these flags mean something to them, I’m OK with that. But you’ve got to do it right. You can’t go around just blatantly terrorizing people.”
Both Norton and Torres will face Superior Court Judge William McClain at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, at the Douglas County Superior Court in Douglasville. Others involved in the incident have already been sentenced. Some were given two and four-year prison sentences, while others, who were “minimally involved” in the incident, were placed in diversion programs.
[Feature Photo: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office]