In July of 2015, a group of fifteen people who go by the name “Respect the Flag”, loaded themselves into pickup trucks that were decorated with American and Confederate flags. The group drove around Douglasville, Georgia and paraded the flags around. It has been less than a month since the white supremacist Dylann Roof who posed with the Confederate flag had slaughtered nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. “Respect the Flag” is a bizarre title for a group that chooses to promote a flag that has been a symbol of oppression and racism since its inception.
The group took their “respect” a step further and found themselves at an eight-year old African American child’s birthday party and began to spew racial slurs, death threats, and wielded a shotgun. “I was scared”, Melissa Alford shared “My first thought was if these people start shooting at us, we wouldn’t be able to get all the kids.”
Jose Isamel Torres, the group member that pointed the shotgun at the partygoers was sentenced to twenty years, in which he will serve at least thirteen in prison for aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and street gang terrorism. Kayla Norton, the mother of Torres’s kids loaded the shotgun and was sentenced to fifteen years and will have to serve at least six in prison for terroristic threats and street gang terrorism. Both Norton and Torres will be banned from Douglasville after their sentences have been completed, since they violated the Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act.
Prosecutors made a statement insisting that the case wasn’t about practicing the First Amendment or waving the Confederate flag but terrorizing a community because of their skin color.
Norton and Torres both cried as their verdicts were announced on Monday . The two had faced the most severe charges out of the group members. Other less prominent members pleaded guilty and were put into a diversion program.