Two people who were convicted in a confrontation in a Georgia community at a child’s birthday party that took place in 2015 have been sentenced to a combined 33 years in prison.
On the morning of February 27, a judge sentenced Kayle Norton to 15 years in prison, with six to serve and Jose Torres to 20 years in prison, with 13 to serve.
The pair were prosecuted under the Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism law. The incident took place several weeks after Dylan Roof killed nine black worshipers at a South Carolina church, sparking a backlash against public displays of the Confederate battle flag.
According to reports, Norton and Torres paraded through a neighborhood that is populated by mostly black residents with a group called “Respect the Flag,” which flew Confederate flags from their trucks. The group allegedly noticed a black family having a birthday party, and decided to roll up and cause trouble, reportedly telling the party-goers that they would “kill y’all ni**ers.”
Video from the incident was shared by the New York Times back in October, 2015.
From the Times’ original report:
Prosecutors say that members of the group, which calls itself Respect the Flag, threatened a group of blacks attending an outdoor birthday party on July 25. A cellphone video of part of the episode shows several white men driving away from the party in a convoy of pickup trucks with the Confederate battle flag and other banners, including American flags, fluttering from the truck beds.
The partygoers contend that members of the flag group yelled racial slurs and displayed a crowbar, a knife and either a rifle or a shotgun, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group in Montgomery, Ala., that is representing some of the accusers.
To support the work we do on this site, click here.
According to the accused, the confrontation started when someone at the party threw an object at one of the trucks, but party attendees’ accusations and video of the incident were enough to charge two people, Kayla Norton and Jose Torres, with violating Georgia’s street-gang terrorism law.
“If you drive around town with a Confederate flag, yelling the ‘N’ word, you know how it’s going to be interpreted,” Judge William McClain said at the sentencing. “It’s inexplicable to me that you weren’t arrested by the police that day.
Both defendants sobbed openly during the court proceedings.
Watch WSB-TV‘s report on the story in the video below:
Update, 7/7/21: According to a report from June 2020, Norton was released from prison in 2019 while Torres remains incarcerated. According to 11Alive, Norton became eligible for parole on Feb. 3, 2019, after serving one-third of her total prison sentence. She will be on probation even after the six-year portion of her sentence ends in 2023.
Featured image via screen grab (Fox 5). To follow Sky Palma on Facebook, click here.