A Georgia couple will serve lengthy prison terms for their involvement in racist harassment — including waving the Confederate flag, shouting slurs, and making armed threats — at a black child’s 2015 birthday party.
Jose Torres, 26, was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and Kayla Norton, 25, to six years, according to the Associated Press.
Torres and Norton were part of a group of about 15 people who called themselves “Respect the Flag.” The group decorated several pickup trucks with Confederate flags and drove around Douglasville, Georgia, in July 2015 —just weeks after Dylann Roof murdered nine black people in a Charleston, S.C., church.
The 10 men and five women eventually came upon the birthday party of an 8-year-old black boy and shouted death threats and anti-black slurs at those in attendance. Prosecutors said Torres also pointed a shotgun at partygoers.
“Their actions were motivated by racial hatred,” said Superior Court Judge William McClain, who sentenced the couple.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates hate crimes, posted video in October 2015 that documented the immediate aftermath of the event.
All 15 members of the group were charged in connection with the incident, but Torres and Norton’s sentences are the harshest. The two were convicted of violating the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. Both were also found guilty of making terroristic threats, and Torres was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault. Torres and Norton apologized and wept in court.