By Alyssa M, Franklin and Marshall College
Imagine: You are celebrating your child’s birthday party when a group of people in trucks waving the confederate flag drive by and start yelling racial slurs at you. A man then points a gun at you and your children and threatens to kill you, all because of the color of your skin. While many Americans might believe that racism is a thing of the past, this is not the case in Douglasville, Georgia.
On Monday, February 27th, 2017, Jose Torres, a 26 year old, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His girlfriend, 25 year-old Kayla Norton was sentenced to 15 years of prison time. The couple were yelling racial slurs at an African American family who were having a birthday party, and threatened to kill the people at the party, including their children. The group that the couple were associated with was a Confederate Group called “Respect the Flag.” In a Fox 5 Atlanta report, David Emadi, an assistant District Attorney expressed to Judge William Mclain, “They repeatedly yelled death threats, saying they were going to [be] killing all the [n******]. They said, ‘We’ll blow the heads off all the little [b*tches] and the little [n******] can get one, too.’” (Edwards). The incident took place in July of 2015 and the sentencing was finalized on Monday. Torres and Norton were charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and violation of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act (Edwards).
While some may argue that Torres and Norton’s freedom of speech and expression rights were violated, this is simply not the case. Although Torres and Norton are free to have these racist opinions (aside from how wrong they might be), the line is drawn when their freedom of speech and expression impedes upon the Victim and Victim’s family and friends’ rights. Article three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Therefore, by pointing a gun at the victim’s friends and children, Torres violated their right to life and security of person, all because he disapproved of the color of their skin.
Furthermore, the lengthy prison sentence that Judge William Mclain assigned to Torrez and Norton sends a strong message to anyone in groups such as the racist “Respect the Flag” group, that violent racist speech or actions will not be tolerated. In areas where these groups run rampant, a sanction like this could help diminish the amount of racially intolerant acts.
Source: Cuevas, Mayra, and Ralph Ellis. “Georgia Couple Sentenced for Racist Threats at Child’s Birthday Party.” CNN. Cable News Network, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. <http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/us/georgia-couple-confederate-flags-threats/>.
Source: Edwards, Breanna. “Ga. Couple Get Prison for Confederate Racist Terror at Black Child’s Birthday Party.” The Root. Www.theroot.com, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. <http://www.theroot.com/ga-couple-sentenced-to-prison-for-waving-confederate-f-1792816994>.
Source: Folley, Aris. “Georgia Couple behind Bars after Making Racist Threats at a Child’s Birthday Party.” AOL.com. AOL, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. <https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/02/28/georgia-couple-sentenced-prison-racist-threats-childs-birthday-party/21851577/>.
Source: Press, Associated. “Couple Gets Prison for Terrorizing Black Child’s Birthday Party.” New York Post. N.p., 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. <http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/couple-gets-prison-for-terrorizing-black-childs-birthday-party/>.
Source: “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. <http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/human-rights-basics/universal-declaration-of-human-rights>.
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