Confederate flag backers indicted in clash with black partygoers

Channel 2's Audrey Washington reports.

Confederate flag supporters who became involved in a confrontation with a black family hosting a birthday party in Douglas County this summer have been indicted on charges filed under a state’s anti-terroristic threats law.

» UPDATE: 2 in Douglas County Confederate flag case sentenced to lengthy prison terms

District Attorney Brian Fortner’s office said a grand jury handed down the indictments Friday against 15 members of the group “Respect the Flag.” The DA said the group violated the state’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and is accused of making terroristic threats. Two members also are accused of battery in a separate incident.

Fortner told Channel 2 Action News most of the suspects had been arrested.

“The individuals charged will be arraigned, will have the charges presented to them, then [comes] the process of giving them their due process and their day in court,” Fortner said.

Melissa Alford, who was hosting the July 25 party, said at the time a convoy of Confederate flag-bearing pickup trucks and their passengers interrupted the celebration with threats and racial epithets.

Cellphone video posted on social media showed Douglasville officers holding back a group of black men and women as at least seven pickup trucks drive off. The trucks' white passengers were seen riding with Confederate, American and military flags flapping on poles mounted on their vehicles.

Another video showed trucks gathered on a grassy area, and at least one racial slur can be heard. Alford said the trucks drove by several times before parking in the field next to her house.

Levi Bush, who was driving one of the trucks and was named in the indictment, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in July that the convoy was leaving a nearby event and just happened to drive by the home. He said partygoers started yelling at the convoy and throwing rocks.

» Complete coverage of Confederate flag controversy

The incident was among the clashes between anti- and pro-Confederate flag protesters in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of nine black worshippers in Charleston, S.C. this summer by a suspected white supremacist who embraces the Civil War era symbol.

The shootings have sparked renewed debate over government-sponsored Confederate displays and triggered calls for their removal from state property, including Stone Mountain, where three Confederate heroes are memorialized.

Just above and beyond the behemoth carvings of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis on Stone Mountain, state authorities have agreed to erect a monument to civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to address concerns over the predominance of Confederate symbols at the popular park.

The individuals indicted in Douglas County on charges of violating the state’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and of making terroristic threats are Robert Andrew Hansard, John Anthony Allen, Lacey Paul Henderson, Joe Eric Hood, Levi Devin Bush, Ashley Elizabeth Butler, Alexis Odell Fennell, Lacey Paul Henderson, Jose Ismael Torres, Amanda Sue Dyson, Jeffery Chad Wigley, Gregory Adam Upchurch. Scott Chapman, Thomas Charles Summers and Judy King Summers.

Eric Hood and Thomas Summers also were also charged with battery in connection with an incident that occurred the same day at a local gas station.

No additional information on the suspects, such as ages or hometowns, was provided.