Confederate Flag terrorism indictments have been handed down against 15 Americans in the Atlanta area. A local district attorney accused the citizens who chose to fly the flag on their vehicles and to wear the Civil War symbol on their clothing with violating anti-street gang statutes.
The Confederate Flag indictments were embarked upon after the Respect the Flag group accused of terrorism clashed with a group of black residents at a party in July, MSN reports. The Respect the Flag members are accused of threatening the partygoers who were celebrating during an outdoor birthday party on July 25.
A cellphone video, which shows a portion of the encounter, reportedly shows the white men driving away with Confederate Flags and American Flags waving from poles attached to their pickup trucks. The black Douglasville partygoers claim the Respect the Flag group yelled racial slurs and “displayed” a knife, crowbar, and a rifle or a shotgun, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing some of the individuals in the case.
Confederate Flag Supporters Charged with Terrorism (video) – http://t.co/9EGkDcV7yn pic.twitter.com/a2aOI13VuT
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Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner announced the Confederate Flag terrorism indictments during a press conference on Monday. Fortner is a white Republican who was elected in 2014. Each indictment carried two counts: one for making terroristic threats and another for engaging in unlawful criminal gang activity.
During the past 20 years, Douglas County has reportedly gone from being primarily a white community to one that is racially mixed. The Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act was “worded very broadly to deal with any type of activity that occurs with a group that’s organized that commits a crime,” according to Fortner.
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A member of the Georgia Respect the Flag group told the local media that the black partygoers initiated the confrontation at the July party. As noted in the state’s General Assembly, a statement of intent attached to the anti-street gang activity legislation states that citizens retain their freedom of expression and association rights. The legislation also maintained that Georgia was in a “state of crisis” due to the violent crime caused by street gangs.
The Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act defines a criminal street gang as “any organization, association or group of three or more persons associated in fact, whether formal or informal” that conspires or engages in a defined set of serious criminal actions. The law also allows prosecutors to use signs, symbols, graffiti, and common activities to define street gangs.
First Amendment challenges were issued against the law, but it was upheld by the state supreme court in 2009. Southern Poverty Law Center chief trial lawyer Morris Dees said he didn’t know of a similar law being used to define Confederate Flag-related incidents as terrorism but added that the recent indictments demonstrate good use of the statute, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I don’t know why it hasn’t been used before,” Dees said.
Some of the Respect the Flag members have been arrested and the Douglas County prosecutor said more would be placed in handcuffs soon. Levi Bush, a Confederate Flag group member who was named in the indictment, said some of the black partygoers yelled taunts and threw rocks at the people and the trucks as they drove by. Bush said that neither he nor anyone else named in the terrorism indictments were guilty of the charges.
What do you think about the Confederate Flag terrorism indictments in Georgia?
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