The Virginian Court of Appeals has turned down the petition of a white racist, Jack Eugene Turner who hanged a Black dummy with noose to terrorize Black neighbors.
The Virginia Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the felony conviction of a white racist who hung a Black, life-size dummy from a noose in his front yard on the same day of the Charleston Church shooting that left nine Black parishioners dead, Atlanta Black Star reports.
Virginia appeals court upholds conviction of Rocky Mount man who hung noose in his yard https://t.co/PfUlButvgp
— Times-Dispatch (@RTDNEWS) November 23, 2016
On June 17, 2015 — the very day 22-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire on a group of unsuspecting churchgoers — a passerby in Franklin County, Va., reported seeing an “all-black, life-size dummy hanging by a noose from a tree,” according to a statement from the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
The Virginia Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court, found that a state law that bans displaying a noose with the intent to intimidate is constitutional, according to The Washington Post.
Turner, who lives next to a black family, was convicted in Franklin County Circuit Court of violating Virginia’s ban on displaying a noose, the statement said, but he appealed the conviction, challenging the constitutionality of the law and whether the display occurred in “a public place.”
On Tuesday, the appeals court rejected Turner’s argument that he had a First Amendment right to display the noose, concluding that the noose “constitutes a ‘true threat,’ and, like cross burning, it is undeserving of First Amendment protection.”
The court also said that under the law, Turner’s yard qualified as a “public place.”
“The use of an intimidating and threatening display on one’s own premises constituted a violation of the law because Turner displayed a noose and dummy in a place and manner to communicate threats to others with the intent to place members of the public in fear of violence and bodily harm,” s aid the opinion, written by Judge Robert J. Humphreys.
The court noted that more than 2,400 Black people died by lynching between 1880 and 1930, and that Turner “placed a handmade cardboard sign against his house that read, ‘Black n—– lives don’t matter, got rope’ ” while awaiting sentencing.
Virginia’s attorney general praised the decision.
“The Commonwealth will not tolerate expressions of hate, intolerance, or bigotry intended to intimidate people because of their race,” Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said in a statement. “The display of a noose as a threat has rightly been banned in Virginia because it is an unmistakable signal that evokes the horrific and shameful specter of lynching.”
At a bench trial last year in Franklin County Circuit Court, the white racist, Turner was found guilty of violating a state law, passed in 2009, which prohibits displaying a noose to intimidate someone, The Roanoke Times states. He was sentenced to six months in jail and served his time, but earlier this year, defense attorney Holland Perdue appealed the case.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 23, 2016
In September, a three-judge panel heard arguments from Perdue and from Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schandevel, who said Turner’s actions constituted unprotected threats no matter where they occurred.
As he had during Turner’s trial, Perdue claimed that Turner’s display was protected as free speech under the First Amendment, and also that it occurred on Turner’s own private property and not “on a highway or other public place” as the statute prohibits.
In a 16-page opinion released Tuesday, Judge Robert Humphreys affirmed Turner’s conviction.
“The evidence was sufficient to support the circuit court’s conclusion that the offense occurred in a public place,” Humphreys wrote, adding that Turner’s act violated the law because “Turner displayed a noose and dummy in a place and manner to communicate threats to others with the intent to place members of the public in fear of violence and bodily harm.”
While he acknowledged the importance of free speech, and that “the First Amendment protects Turner’s right to be a racist and even to convey his racist beliefs to others,” he later added that a “constitutional limit to that allowance has been reached when an idea becomes a threat that causes reasonable people to fear leaving their homes.”
At Turner’s trial, one of the victims in the case, neighbor John Mitchell, testified to just that.
“If he can hang a noose, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I fear for my family’s safety,” Mitchell said in court. “Every morning, I walk out my door. Is somebody going to shoot me in the back?”
The hanging dummy appeared in Turner’s yard the afternoon of June 17, 2015, just a few hours before a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine people dead.
Although police confiscated Turner’s display soon after it appeared, Turner later hung a Confederate flag on his porch and another in a window that faces the Mitchell home.
Between his trial and his sentencing, Turner was rearrested for violating the terms of his bond by posting a spray-painted sign in his yard that read: “Black n—– lives don’t matter. Got rope?”
Turner is the first person in Virginia to be convicted under the relatively new noose law. A Class 6 felony, it carries up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
This white racist really deserves the punishment. White racist have gotten away with hate crimes for far too long. It’s about time the judicial system devoid itself of racial bias so as to restore a level sanctity in the justice system of America.