*A Georgia judge sentenced a white couple to prison time Monday (Feb. 27) for their involvement in a 2015 incident in which a group they were part of waved Confederate flags, shouted racial slurs and made armed threats, all at adults and children attending a child’s party outside of Atlanta.
Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, shed tears in Douglas County court as they were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in jail, respectively, according to ABC News. In an indictment, Torres and Norton, among others, were charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats and violation of the state’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
In July 2015, the parents of three children were part of a group of Confederate flag supporters calling themselves Respect the Flag. For two days that summer, the group rode around in pickup trucks threatening black families and calling them racial slurs across two counties in the Atlanta suburbs.
The group targeted black families shortly after the Charleston church massacre because its members were upset that South Carolina had responded to the brutal slayings by removing the Confederate battle flag from various sites.
At one point, the group pulled up to a birthday party for a black child in Douglasville. The group’s members allegedly threatened to kill the partygoers, with Torres confronting the family with a gun that Norton had loaded. The family called the police.
During the pair’s sentencing on Monday, the judge said their actions “were motivated by racial hatred,” according to The Associated Press.
crocodile tears, Norton addressed the relatives of the child whose birthday she and others disrupted.
“That is not me. That is not me. That is not him,” Norton said in court after her sentencing. “I would never walk up to you and say those words to you. And I am so sorry that happened to you.”
Four people were charged with felonies, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.com; however, the other two people pleaded guilty and got shorter prison terms.
The judge, saying Torres and Norton had committed a hate crime, also banned them from entering Douglas County after they were released from prison.