Some Troubling Aspects of the Douglasville 15 Case
I've touched on some of these aspects in other comments, but they can certainly bear repeating.
Maybe these defendants ARE white supes motivated by racial hatred, but the case presented by the justice system fails to show that. Claims to that effect are made by others, but actual evidence showing these defendants' statements and actions are far from conclusive. It's mostly just "they said..." claims. **
If actual evidence ever comes out that these people are haters misusing our ancestors' flag, I will have no qualms about acknowledging it and denouncing them.
But right now, I'm doubtful, for the following (and other) reasons.
Some of the judge's statements, as reported in the media, are troubling. And what the media "chose" to "report" about this incident reveals their lack of objectivity; it appears that they, and he, are trying to influence public opinion to hatred of the defendants.
>>>“Their actions were motivated by racial hatred,” the judge said.<<<
The judge is not a mind-reader. He cannot know this unless they told him that was what motivated them. I am deeply suspicious of this man's impartiality.
Although I haven't tried to verify this yet, I'm told that he is up for re-election. He's white. His opponent is black. Could his performance during this trial be currying favor with black voters? This seems to substantiate a comment I made in an earlier post that the excessive sentence for the defendants appeared to be politically motivated. Could he have sacrificed an impartial trial for these defendants on the altar of his political ambition?
The media reports:
>>>Just a month after Dylann Roof shot down nine African-American worshipers in a Charleston, S.C., church, Jose Ismael Torres and Kayla Rae Norton gathered with 13 other friends to make a statement about the Confederate battle flag.<<<
Roof and Charleston are irrelevant to this case. Bringing them up is a blatant attempt to falsely associate the defendants with Roof, and to equate their alleged actions with his crime .
>>>Roof had championed it and said he wanted to start a race war.<<<
Roof did not "champion" the Confederate battle flag. He had his picture made with it a few times, but he didn't even mention it in his manifesto, which is where it would need to be if he was "championing" it. If you are confused about this, compare his behavior to that of the Virginia Flaggers. THEY are champions of the battle flag.
>>>Over two days in July 2015, Norton and Torres’ group, which called itself “Respect the Flag,” decorated their convoy of pickup trucks and went on what authorities described as a drunken rampage through Paulding and Douglas counties.<<<
How do we know this description by "authorities" is accurate when there is very little elaboration on it or substantiation of it? A news report includes this:
>>>“Many good people in Paulding County saw you for what you are,” McClain said before he handed down the sentences. “Everywhere you went, 911 call centers were flooded with calls.”<<<
How many good people, Judge? How many 911 calls were there? "Flooded with calls" is blatantly nonspecific. Intentionally so? How many is a flood? Three? Thirty? Three hundred? This needs to be clarified. Calls to 911 are archived. It should be possible, and relatively easy, to get a precise number of the calls, rather than resort to the loaded word, "flooded."
>>>As the defendants wept uncontrollably, Douglas County Superior Court Judge William McClain castigated Norton, 25, and Torres, 26, for perpetrating what he called a hate crime. He sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve in prison; Norton was given 15 years, with six to serve. Upon their release, they will be banished from Douglas County, McClain said.<<<
On top of these grossly excessive sentences, they are to be banished from the county? How medieval can this judge get?
There are many other things about this case, about how it has been handled from the beginning, about the trial and about the way it has all been reported in the media that are extremely troubling.
Yes, the defendants did something wrong and they should be held accountable for it. If the incident with the gun is being accurately reported, they *especially* deserve to be held accountable for that.
But there are too many troubling things about this case that makes me deeply suspicious that serving justice was not the point for the "authorities".
***** 1. The involvement of the Southern Poverty Law Center since the very beginning ... From the SPLC's website:
"The SPLC launched an investigation immediately after the July 25 incident and turned over videos and other evidence to Douglasville District Attorney Brian K. Fortner. SPLC attorneys also brought witnesses to the prosecutor and have been representing some of the people at the party."
We need to know what videos and "other evidence" the SPLC gave to the DA. We need to see the videos and other evidence ourselves. We need the identity of the SPLC-provided witnesses, and what information/testimony they provided. We need copies of any depositions they gave.
***** 2. The repeated references to Dylann Roof and Charleston by the press.
If there was any actual connection whatsoever between Roof and this group, that connection needs to be presented in detail. If there is no actual connection -- if it is some mysterious "link" imagined in the press due to their prejudices about the Confederate battle flag -- they need to remove all references to Roof and Charleston from their reports about this Georgia incident.
***** 3. This incident needs to bring into sharp focus Georgia's "gang terrorism" law. Citizens of the state need to understand just how dangerous this law is, how it could endanger innocent people, or authorize cruel and unusual punishment for those convicted of crimes under its authority.
That's just a start on the troubling aspects of this case.
I believe there is waaaaaay more here than meets the eye.
** The only video I've seen of the incident as it occurred (and it was winding down, as the trucks were leaving at that time), is a snippet of less than a minute. I note that 1.) no threats or racial slurs are discernible in the audio from those in the trucks, 2.) the party-goers do not appear to be the least bit terrorized or traumatized; they appear to be infuriated, at least one of them mindlessly so; 3.) there are no guns visible in the snnippet; 4.) there are no swastika flags, as some people claimed.