Harassment Sentence Raises Eyebrows

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The mother of a teen who was the victim in a race crime is speaking out about the punishment handed down to the man convicted of it.

A judge sentenced Matthew Booster to three years of probation and made him give up his Confederate flag.

As part of his punishment, Booster is also required to complete a cultural awareness class.

But the most unique part of his sentencing was giving up his Confederate flag, which was hanging from his truck at the time of the crime.

Right now, the flag is in the evidence room at the Springfield Police Department waiting to be destroyed.

“The flag was seized as a part of the original case,” said Sgt. John Umenhofer.

How the department gets rid of it however, is still up in the air.

“Whether it’s going to be thrown into the dumpster or burned, I don’t really know what they’re gonna do. We don’t want the destruction itself to become an event,” Umenhofer said.

Both the police and district attorney agreed that getting rid of seized property is completely normal protocol.

“Things are seized by police and defendants are ordered to give them up regularly if it’s instrumental in the commission of the crime,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow.

So what do the victim and his family think? They actually approved the plea deal, saying the entire sentence–flag destruction included–was the right way to go.

“I thought it was a great idea. I just looked at it as the city and state taking a stance against racism,” said the victim’s mother.

In response to arguments of the flag as a symbol of regional pride, the victim’s mother said it’s no longer the best way to celebrate that.

“There’s one thing to fly the flag because you’re from the South or that’s where you grew up, but they don’t really use that anymore. The only message you can be sending is racism,” said the victim’s mother.

“The forfeiture and destruction of the flag is just a small part of the whole sentencing scheme. This was something that Judge Rooklee said was an embarrassment to our community,” Perlow said.

If Booster violates his probation, he could end up serving time in prison.

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