The four perpetrators—two 18-year-old men and one 18-year old and one 24-year-old female (the women appear from their names to be sisters or otherwise related)—have now been charged, and “hate crime” is among the charges:
Authorities have charged three teens and a 24-year-old woman with a hate crime after a Facebook Live video showed four people torturing a man who authorities say has mental health issues.
Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper; 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, also face charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to WGN. Hill, Cooper, and Covington were also charged with residential burglary. Hill was also accused of robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
I think the video was so clear and the offenses so egregrious that they had no choice but to include “hate crime” among the other offenses. If there must be a category known as “hate crime,” this would appear to be a textbook case.
It gets worse, too. Another video has emerged:
In the first 30-minute video, which apparently was posted live on Facebook on Tuesday, the victim is backed into a corner, his mouth duct-taped shut. The victim’s clothes were cut, he was peppered with cigarette ashes, and then his hair cut with a knife until his scalp bled.
Several people can be seen laughing and eating during the attack, in addition to making disparaging remarks about President-elect Donald Trump and using racially charged language. At one point, while the victim is backed into a corner, someone is heard shouting “F*** Donald Trump. F*** white people.”
Thursday morning, Chicago police confirmed they are investigating a second video, which surfaced on Twitter, and appears to show the suspects grabbing the victim’s head, shoving it into a toilet, and forcing him to drink.
Someone can be heard yelling “Drink that s*** right f***ing now. … Drink the toilet water, b****! Say f*** Trump! Say f*** Trump!”
What follow is my original post on the subject.
John Hinderaker at Powerline notes that the original AP story about an apparent hate-motivated assault perpetrated in Chicago and documented in a video that was posted online was mum about the races of the parties involved.
But Fox reported the story this way:
Chicago investigators are questioning four African-Americans after a Facebook Live video shows a group of people torturing a white mentally disabled man while someone yelled “F*** Trump!” and “F*** white people!”
Chicago police were made aware of the video Tuesday afternoon. A young African American woman streamed the video live on Facebook showing at least four people holding the young white man hostage.
The AP story has now been updated. As of this moment, the headline is the rather neutral “Police: Charges coming in Chicago beating aired on Facebook.” The opposite of inflammatory or racial. Here are the first few paragraphs:
Chicago police don’t believe a man beaten in an assault broadcast live on Facebook was targeted because he was white despite profanities made by the accused assailants about white people and President-elect Donald Trump, a police spokesman said Thursday.
Charges are expected later in the day against four black suspects, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press.
Guglielmi acknowledged that the suspects made “terrible racist statements” during the assault, but that investigators believe the victim was targeted because he has “special needs,” not because of his race. Still, Guglielmi said authorities are looking at whether the attack falls under hate crimes statutes.
Guglielmi said it’s possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family. Investigators said the victim was with his attackers, including one who was a classmate, for up to 48 hours, and the attack left him traumatized.
Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut slumped in a corner as at least two assailants cut off his sweatshirt with a knife, as others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man’s head, and one person pushing the man’s head with his or her foot. A red band also appears to be around the victim’s hands.
Off-camera, people can be heard using profanities about “white people” and Trump.
As with many stories of the “possible hate-crime” type, there are at least three stories here: the initial event (or in some cases, hoax), the manner of its coverage, and the reaction (both of law enforcement and the public) to it. Another issue is that of the category “hate crime” itself; whether there should be such a special category of crime at all.
As far as this particular initial event goes, I think most people would agree that it was egregiously vicious and chilling (I haven’t watched the video and don’t intend to do so, but I don’t think it’s necessary to view it to come to that conclusion).
As for the police reaction, I think they’re doing the right thing in announcing the facts and being rather cautious about characterizing it. I think that should always be true. This event appears at first blush to have been a crime with many motivations, one of which might indeed be hatred of whites and one of which might be hatred of mentally challenged people (the “F*** Trump” part may be more gratuitous than specific; I doubt the victim was identified as a Trump supporter). There seems to be plenty of hatred to go around on the part of these perpetrators, who appear to have proudly documented their own crime (although the person who posted it online was unlikely to have been one of the perpetrators; perhaps a girlfriend or friend? UPDATE: It apparently was one of the female perpetrators).
Then there’s the press coverage of the story. It is obvious that so far this has been in tremendous contrast to what would be going on if the races had been reversed, and if the perps had yelled “F*** Hillary.” The races would then have been identified in a sensational headline, and the first stories would have led with the racial angle as well. And I very much doubt that AP lede would have read like this had the races been reversed:
Chicago police don’t believe a man beaten in an assault broadcast live on Facebook was targeted because he was black despite profanities made by the accused assailants about black people and President-elect Barack Obama, a police spokesman said Thursday.
No, it’s hard to imagine that sort of lede being written by the AP these days (or back in 2008), except in an alternate universe.
In contrast, of course, there are the many hate crimes that have been reported recently against Muslims and others, some of them supposedly committed by Trump supporters, crimes that have often turned out to be fake (“trumped up,” you might say) in the end. And yet, they were so well-publicized in the media and social media that most liberals probably believe to this day that they occurred. Those same people may have missed the details of the present story, which at least at this moment appears to be only too true.
Then there’s the whole question of whether there should be a special category of offense known as a “hate crime.” After all, we already have perfectly good charges in our criminal justice system. In general, hate crime laws were originally passed in order to provide for a federal remedy in cases in which states either couldn’t or wouldn’t prosecute, or when states didn’t have penalties considered serious enough.
Another argument for separate hate crime laws is this:
Penalty-enhancement hate crime laws are traditionally justified on the grounds that, in Chief Justice Rehnquist’s words, “this conduct is thought to inflict greater individual and societal harm…. bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest.”
I happen to think that there is no special need for hate-crime laws. Interestingly enough, quite a few hate crimes committed against white people have been prosecuted, although that’s a controversial area, too:
Hate crime statistics published in 2002, gathered by the FBI under the auspices of the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, documented over 7,000 hate crime incidents, in roughly one-fifth of which the victims were white people. However, these statistics have caused dispute. The FBI’s hate crimes statistics for 1993, which similarly reported 20% of all hate crimes to be committed against white people, prompted Jill Tregor, executive director of Intergroup Clearinghouse, to decry it as “an abuse of what the hate crime laws were intended to cover”, stating that the white victims of these crimes were employing hate crime laws as a means to further penalize minorities.
Jill Tregor seems to be a charter member of “white lives don’t matter, unless the whites involved are the perps.” Apparently Tregor is not alone in her views; enough people seem to have shared her opinion to have prompted this rejoinder:
James B. Jacobs and Kimberly Potter note that white people, including those who may be sympathetic to the plight of those who are victims of hate crimes by white people, bristle at the notion that hate crimes against whites are somehow inferior to, and less worthy than, hate crimes against other groups. They observe that while, as stated by Altschiller, no hate crime law makes any such distinction, the proposition has been argued by “a number of writers in prominent publications”, who have advocated the removal of hate crimes against whites from the category of hate crime, on the grounds that hate crime laws, in their view, are intended to be affirmative action for “protected groups”. Jacobs and Potter firmly assert that such a move is “fraught with potential for social conflict and constitutional concerns.”
That should be glaringly obvious. But apparently it’s not.
Then there’s this on the differential reporting:
Analysis of the 1999 FBI statistics by John Perazzo in 2001 found that white violence against black people was 28 times more likely (1 in 45 incidents) to be labelled as a hate crime than black violence against white people (1 in 1254 incidents). In analyzing hate crime hoaxes, Katheryn Russell-Brown propounds a hypothesis explaining the disparity in how hate crimes against whites are viewed with respect to hate crimes against blacks. She hypothesizes that the prevailing view in the minds of the public, that hate-crimes-against-blacks hoaxers intend to take advantage of, is that the crime that whites are most likely to commit against blacks is a hate crime, and that it is hard for (in her words) “most of us” to envision a white person committing a crime against a black person for a different reason.
There will be tremendous reluctance to label the current Chicago incident a hate crime. This doesn’t bother me, actually; as I said, I would prefer that the entire category “hate crime” be removed at this point. Assault, aggravated assault, deprivation of civil rights, kidnapping, attempted murder, manslaughter, murder—nothing wrong with those tried-and-true categories of crime, which are all avenues for vigorous prosecution of offenses.
[NOTE: If you want to take a look at a debate about whether hate crime laws are a good idea or not, see this.]