Hate crimes do not go unpunished in Georgia
Two members of a Georgia group named “Respect the Flag” have gotten double-digit sentences two years after rolling in a convoy adorned with confederate flags through a neighborhood and threatening a black family having a birthday celebration.
The convoy also reported to have stopped at a shopping center and a convenience store where more hostile exchanges were made with people of color.
Jose Torres and Kayla Norton were both sentenced on March 3 to serve time in prison for a myriad of things. Torres got 13 years and Norton got six.
The video of them crying and pleading in court during their sentencing went viral. Kayla Norton, the woman who was sentenced, pleaded with the judge and everyone else in the audience.
“I want ya’ll to know that is not me,” Norton said. “I would never walk up to you and say those words to you.”
Obviously, that’s untrue. Norton knew full well what she was doing. She would have taken a plea bargain if she really did regret her actions. The fact that she did not plead guilty in the first place gives her even less room to suddenly regret her actions and break down in the courtroom.
Torres got his sentence for wielding a shotgun during the altercation with the family and was also found guilty of breaking several laws that take measures against hate crimes and gangs.
If either of them had pled guilty, they most likely could have gotten less-harsh sentences. But as the saying goes: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
It is good that the video of them breaking down in court after being sentenced reached a wide audience. It made an example of them to anyone who is thinking of taking part in the rising wave of hate crimes occurring in the United States.
It’s one thing to spew racist rhetoric on the grounds of free speech where it is allowed but another thing completely to show up to a private celebration armed with a weapon and to make threats and hurl racial slurs at a family and their children.
Torres and Norton serve as a good example of what should happen to anyone who tries to intimidate others on the grounds of trivial things like skin color or religion.
Even though it took two years for justice to be served, it finally came.
Opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached [email protected]