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douglasville, vintage stamp on paper background

Like many, I was on cloud nine when I heard about the heavy sentence a white supremacist couple got in Georgia at the beginning of the month. Kayla Norton and Jose “Joe” Torres (I never heard of a white supremacist named Jose by the way, talk about self-hate) got a combined 19 years behind bars for pulling a gun on a bunch of little Black kids at an 8-year-old’s birthday party.

So you mean two white people got sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison in the South by a white judge when there wasn’t even a murder involved? At a time when hate crimes are surging across the country, and protection laws are being rolled back for transgender students, this verdict sends a very strong message of intolerance for intolerance.

It’s amazing — maybe a little too amazing in #45’s America. As a matter of fact, is it even true? I mean, fake news is real nowadays.

I decide to call my mom. She lives in Douglasville where the assault and sentencing reportedly took place. If the story’s true she’ll know because the place is so small if you drive one mile you’re in another county.

“Beau really gave it to them,” says my mom.

Not only was the story true, she actually knows the Honorable Judge William “Beau” McClain who presided over the case. Turns out, he’s a volunteer at a pantry that she and some of her senior buddies frequent.

“He’s always there praying with people, helping them get what they need…he’s so helpful and available you wouldn’t even know that he’s a judge. I actually thought that he had retired until I saw him on TV regarding this case,” she says.

When I ask if she was surprised by the heavy sentences handed down to 25-year-old Norton and 26-year-old Torres, she says no.

“Beau is known for being a ‘hanging judge.’ You do the crime, you do the time. But, he’s also known for being fair. A few years ago, he sent a Black teen to prison for life without parole for killing another Black teen. Some said it was too tough a sentence, but not if you’re the mom of the dead teen.”

Sounds like Beau’s a real community man.

Honesty, though, when it comes to fairness and judges I’m skeptical. Blacks are incarcerated 5.1 times more than whites and it’s not because we’re doing the most crime. We all know the judicial system is broken. Just watch Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th and get a serious education. But I will say that I’m encouraged by Judge Beau because the truth is that justice was served in this case and the next time two racists want to start pulling out guns and threatening little Black kids and their parents they will have to think twice. At least, in Douglasville, Georgia.

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and married mom of two young girls. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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