Just weeks after Dylann Roof murdered nine Charleston churchgoers, a gang of Confederate-flag toting racists terrorized a black child’s birthday party in Douglasville, GA.
Joyriding in trucks after a rally in support of the Confederate flag, the group started by shouting racial slurs, eventually pulling a shotgun, and threatening to kill everyone at the party – including children – due to the color of their skin. Police responded but made no arrests, citing conflicting stories despite video evidence provided by witnesses.
Kayla Norton and Jose Torres, who were in the trucks, claimed to police that the conflict began when were pelted with rocks by party-goers, which made them feel threatened. They said that this led to words being exchanged and firearms being brandished.
But the Alford family who hosted the party had a different account. They say they were enjoying a peaceful birthday party when the trouble occurred. One witnessed said that no one at the party did anything to incite any violence and that she had video evidence to back up her claim.
However, the police who responded made no arrests related to the incident. Judge William McClain said later that “[i]t’s inexplicable to me that [they] weren’t arrested by the police that day.”
District Attorney Brian Fortner acted where the Douglasville Police Department wouldn’t. Fortner released a statement addressing the case,
“Many people tried to make the case about simply flying the Confederate Battle Flag. However, it wasn’t about that at all. I would never allow someone to be prosecuted for exercising his or her 1St Amendment right to fly whatever flag they choose regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about it. Instead, this case was about a group of people riding around our community, drinking alcohol, harassing and intimidating our citizens because of the color of their skin. Many people from all over this area were so alarmed by this behavior and fearful that something bad was going to happen that they called 911 to report it.”
In handing down a conviction, Judge McClain told the pair, “If you drive around town with a Confederate flag, yelling the ‘N’ word, you know how it’s going to be interpreted.”
McClain sentenced Torres to 20 years in prison, while Norton received 15 years for violating Georgia Street-Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Fortner said of the incident, “it it was not about flying a flag but it was about pointing a shotgun at other people and threatening to kill them because of the color of their skin. This dangerous and racially motivated behavior is something that our entire community should stand against.”