“Just’a good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm. . . .”
I wondered whatever happened with this story:
In an unusual legal maneuver, the district attorney in this suburb of Atlanta has won indictments against 15 supporters of the Confederate battle flag, accusing them of violating the state’s anti-street gang ordinance during a confrontation with black partygoers in July, the district attorney said on Monday.
Prosecutors say that members of the group, which calls itself “Respect the Flag,” threatened a group of African-Americans participating in an outdoor party on July 25. A cellphone video of part of the episode shows several white men driving away from the party in a convoy of pickup trucks with the Confederate battle flag and other banners, including American flags, fluttering from the truck beds. . . .
The Douglas County district attorney, Brian Fortner, a white Republican elected to the office in 2014, announced the indictments in a news conference Monday morning. Each of the 15 was indicted on one count of making terroristic threats, and a second count of unlawfully participating in “criminal gang activity.”
Mr. Fortner said that the Georgia statute upon which the second charge is based, the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, is “worded very broadly to deal with any type of activity that occurs with a group that’s organized that commits a crime.”
“We respect the rights of all citizens to exercise their First Amendment right,” Mr. Fortner said. “But we’re going to require them, when doing that, to respect the rights of all of the citizens to feel safe and secure.”
Keep in mind that truck rallies like this one have been organized and heavily promoted as a venue for expressing southern pride and heritage. Are these repulsive fools really the ones taking a stand for southern heritage?
Update, October 16: On Thursday, the district attorney who obtained the indictments in this case issued a press release, explaining how those charges were formulated:
Recent press reports have made prominent references to the fact that, at the time the alleged offenses occurred, some of the accused were displaying the modern adaptation of the “Confederate battle flag,” which was a flag used to identify some units of the army of the former Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. This case is not about the display of that flag. Federal courts repeatedly have held that individuals have the right under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to publically [sic.] display that flag. . . .
In Count 1, the accused are charged with a violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. The accused are charged specifically with being part of an organization, association, or group called “Respect the Flag”, which was composed of three or more persons who were associated in fact. This organization, association, or group, whether formal or informal, is alleged to have engaged in criminal gang activity by committing the offense of terroristic threats as alleged in Count 2 of the indictment.
In Count 2, the accused are charged with having committed the offense of terroristic threats. The accused are charged specifically with unlawfully threatening to commit a crime of violence to individuals who were attending a party at 9037 Campbellton Street, Douglasville, Georgia, with the purpose of terrorizing those individuals and in reckless disregard for the risk of causing such terror.
The New York Times article I linked previously makes clear that this is an unusual application of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, which has been on the books in one form or another since 1992, and was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2009. Its use in this case will likely be challenged, and that’s fine. I don’t know the ins and outs of Georgia law well enough to make any predictions on how that will fall out. But if these jackasses did anything like what’s been alleged, they absolutely should be prosecuted and, if convicted, go to jail.