A YOUNG white couple wept openly as they were handed lengthy prison terms for crashing a black child’s birthday party with confederate flags, racial slurs and armed threats.
Jose Ismael Torres, 26, was slapped with a 13-year sentence, while his partner Kayla Rae Norton, 25, will spend six years behind bars for the hate crime.
The pair antagonised a family celebrating their son’s eighth birthday party by driving with a caravan of trucks waving confederate flags in Douglasville, Georgia, in 2015.
The couple, who were members of a group called “Respect the Flag”, shouted at adults and children at the party that they would “kill y’all n*****s” while brandishing the flags.
After interrupting the party, they went on to terrorise a nearby Wal-Mart and off licence.
Upon their release from jail, the pair have been barred from Douglas County.
Jose Ismael Torres only cried when members of his family described him as a devoted father in court
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
Kayla Rae Norton took the stand to apologise for her actions in 2015
Speaking to the court, Judge William McClain said: “Their actions were motivated by racial hatred.”
Torres and Norton were the last of 15 people charged in the confrontation, which took place in July 2015.
The couple were found guilty of yelling racial slurs and threatening to kill partygoers – including the kids.
Prosecutors said Torres even pointed a shotgun at the party.
Mum-of-three Norton described the hate crime as the ‘worst decision’ she’s ever made in her life as she sobbed in court
Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a statement: “This is behaviour that even supporters of the confederate battle flag can agree is criminal and shouldn’t be allowed.”
Norton was sentenced on one count of violating Georgia’s street gang act, and one count of making threats of a terrorist nature.
Speaking through her tears, Norton told the court: “I do accept responsibility for what I’ve done.”
Addressing her victims, she added: “What happened to you is absolutely awful.
How is the confederate flag a symbol of racism?
While the confederate flag may have started out as a symbol of succession, it was also the brand to display white power.
It was first sewn for an army that fought to preserve the legally sanctioned slavery of African Americans in the US.
Many activists, politicians and citizens want to get rid of it, citing it as a symbol of racism and hate.
According to a poll conducted in 2015, around half of all Americans view the flag as a quintessentially racist symbol.
“From mother to mother, I cannot imagine having to explain what that word means.
“The worst decision I’ve ever made in my life was to not walk away when I had the chance.”
Norton and Torres have three children together.
Torres only burst into tears when three of his family members described him as a devoted father, hard worker and volunteer in court.
Forgiveness … partygoer Hyesha Bryant told the court she has forgiven the couple for hate crime
He was sentenced on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making threats of a terrorist nature, and one of violating the street gang act.
Speaking to the court, partygoer Hyesha Bryant told the couple she forgave them for the hate crime.
Taking the stand, she said: “I never thought this would be something I’d have to endure in 2017.
“As adults and parents, we have to instil in our children the values of right and wrong. That moment you had to choose to leave, you stayed.”
The hate crime took place less than a month after white supremacist Dylann Roof targeted African Americans as they attended a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine innocents.
Dylann Roof, 22, was sentenced to death for the murder of nine worshippers at a Charleston church in a 2015 killing spree
Roof, who was given the death penalty for his crime, brandished the confederate flag in several photographs that came to light following his arrest.
He said it had been his intent to kill black people and start a race war.