Fifteen members of a group called “Respect the Flag” have been indicted on terror charges after they drove a caravan of trucks through a Georgia neighborhood where a black family was celebrating a child’s birthday, then waved Confederate flags and allegedly threatened party-goers.
The July incident came in the midst of a debate that spread from South Carolina about removing the Confederate flag from public spaces. Video of the confrontation between black party-goers and Confederate flag supporters made national news.
The two sides had wildly divergent accounts of what occurred. But Monday’s indictment by the Douglas County District Attorney called the flag group “a criminal street gang” and accused its members of participating “criminal gang activity” on that day. The group members were charged with making “terroristic threats” against the party-goers.
“This is a child’s birthday party,” one woman calls out on the video.
“That’s a threat, officer,” another party-goer tells a police officer who had arrived on the scene to separate the groups.
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At the time, party-goers said the caravan of trucks drove into the neighborhood, parked in an empty field near the home and began making threats and yelling racial slurs.
“One had a gun, saying he was gonna kill the [racial slur],” party host Melissa Alford told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Then one of them said gimme the gun, I’ll shoot them [racial slur].”
Members of the caravan countered that the group only drives around with flags and sells them to raise money to donate American flags to people who can’t afford them.
Levi Bush, who led the caravan of trucks into the neighborhood, accused the party-goers of swarming the vehicles and throwing rocks and threatening his group with weapons.
“Oh, ya’ll want to play that game, ya’ll want to play with weapons,” another member of the “Respect the Flag” group, Kayla Norton, told Atlanta’s Fox affiliate. “We informed that other group that we did have guns in our vehicles and if need be, we could go get them.”
The indictment released Monday does not specify exactly what actions precipitated the charges. No other individuals have been charged in connection with the incident, the Douglas District Attorney’s Office said.
The indictment states that the 15 members of “Respect the Flag” threatened “to commit a crime of violence to persons attending a party” with the “purpose of terrorizing those individuals and in reckless disregard for the risk of causing such terror.”
Two other members of the group were charged with battery for a separate incident that occurred on the same day at a gas station in Douglas County.