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Georgia pair sentenced to prison over Confederate flag confrontation

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A Georgia judge sentenced a man and a woman to spend years in prison on Monday for their roles in a 2015 Confederate flag display that disturbed a group of black people attending a child’s birthday party, prosecutors said.

Defendants Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, were convicted earlier this month of charges that include making “terroristic threats” during the confrontation in Douglas County near Atlanta, which occurred at a time of heated national debate about a flag that many consider a symbol of racism.

Georgia Superior Court Judge William McClain sentenced Torres to serve 13 years in prison, and Norton to serve 6 years in prison, Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said in a phone interview. Both face probation after their release, and were banished from Douglas County.

Attorneys for Torres and Norton could not immediately be reached for comment.

The sentences were a year longer than prosecutors had asked for, said Fortner, noting the crimes went beyond disagreements over the battle flag used by the pro-slavery South during the U.S. Civil War, which some defend as part of its heritage.

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“This was a case where these people pulled out a shotgun and threatened to kill people at a party, including children,” he said.

The incident played out during heightened debate over the symbolism of the flag, triggered by the racially-motivated shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina weeks earlier.

Prosecutors said witnesses attending the birthday party, featuring a bouncy castle and snow cone machine, testified that people in a convoy of trucks displaying the flag shouted racial slurs as they drove by, stopping next to the party.

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Torres was accused of pointing a shotgun at the predominately black party-goers and threatening to kill them, prosecutors said in a news release. Norton loaded the shotgun and gave it to him, they said.

The pair faced some of the most serious charges out of 15 members of the group “Respect the Flag” indicted over the incident, Fortner said. Two others facing similar charges pleaded guilty and were sentenced to lesser prison sentences.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; editing by Grant McCool)


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Black Georgia lawmaker accuses white man of demanding she ‘go back where she came from’ in supermarket diatribe

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On Friday evening, Erica Thomas, and African-American Democratic lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, was shopping at a Publix supermarket in Mableton when a white customer came up to her and shouted at her, telling her to "go back where you came from" — words echoing President Donald Trump's recent racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.

Thomas' crime? She had too many items for the express checkout line.

Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!

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Trump offers to guarantee bail for rapper A$AP Rocky

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US President Donald Trump offered Saturday to guarantee the bail of rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden on suspicion of assault following a street brawl.

Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who he said gave assurances that the singer would be treated fairly.

"Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative," Trump wrote.

There is no system of bail in Sweden.

Trump said he and Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next 48 hours.

Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest on July 3 following the fight on June 30.

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The best Civil War movie ever made finally gets its due

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On Sunday and on July 24, Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are presenting big-screen showings in theaters nationwide of “Glory,” in honor of the 30-year anniversary of its release. The greatest movie ever made about the American Civil War, “Glory” was the first and, with the exception of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the only film that eschewed romanticism to reveal what the war was really about.

The story is told through the eyes of one of the first regiments of African American soldiers. Almost from the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., the issue of black soldiers in the Union army was hotly debated. On Jan. 1, 1863, as the country faced the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, rapidly accelerating the process of putting black men into federal blue.

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