Editorials

Hate crimes and an horrific video surfaces in Chicago

By Final Call News | Last updated: Jan 11, 2017 - 9:53:10 AM

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Young man abused in video that was live streamed on Facebook.
The images of a young man cowering in a corner while he is taunted, threatened and assaulted is beyond disturbing and has brought attention again to the city of Chicago where four young Blacks have been charged with kidnapping, assaulting and race-based crimes against a special needs young White male.

The race of the victim and the alleged victimizers should not matter but in racially polarized America, there is no way to get around the racial dimensions that arise with the alleged attack. When the assault was publicized, many Whites quickly took to Twitter labeling the criminal acts of individuals a Black Lives Matter kidnapping, but nothing connected the incident to the movement calling for justice and an end to police abuses and murder.

For many the terrible incident fi t the narrative of Whites under siege and endangered by rampaging Blacks while the mainstream media, law enforcement and the government do nothing. It was the same narrative cited by Dylann Roof, who used that lie to justify the slaughter of nine people in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C.

But the reaction of Blacks in such cases is usually extreme sympathy for the victims, especially those victims who are in some way helpless or disadvantaged. And the plight of the 18 year old alleged White male torture victim is not to be mocked or applauded. All unjust suffering must be condemned in the strongest terms—no matter the color of the victim or the actual perpetrators.

The videotaped incident, with some who burned and tortured the victim saying “f*** Trump, f*** White people,” has been explosive. Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and sisters Brittany, 18, and Tanisha Covington, 24 face charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and a hate crime. They are accused of binding, beating, cutting and burning the victim. They are also accused of forcing him to drink from a toilet. The victim’s family members say he was very fond of Jordan Hill and that the two attended an alternative school together. Authorities say a $300 ransom was demanded of the victim’s mother.

“The actions in that video are reprehensible. That along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else for that matter, against anyone regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health or any other identifying factor,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. Police said they found the young man wearing a tank top and shorts during the brutal Chicago winter.

President Obama called the act “despicable.”

No condemnation of savage behavior and acts of violence on an innocent raise concern inside Black America. It is the other problem, the problem of race that colors how Whites see right and wrong. Any Black victim of wrongdoing seems justifi ed or unimportant in most cases, while White suffering is of paramount importance when viewed through the ugly twisted prism of race—and that prism is always there.

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“While white nationalists use the incident to stoke fears of black people targeting innocent whites, the truth is that hate crimes against white people are relatively rare. 2012 statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations show that of the 3,467 hate crimes reported to police that year, 66.2 percent were motivated by racial animus against black people. This is despite the fact that African-Americans make up just 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2015 statistics from the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, just 22 percent of bias attacks were anti-white,” noted Salon magazine.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights condemned “the vicious attack on a young man with developmental disabilities that was live-streamed on Facebook by one of the perpetrators and dominated local and national news.” “The shaky video that went viral Tuesday overnight and generated outrage from millions of viewers shows the 18-year-old victim bound by his wrists and neck, his mouth taped closed, crouching in a corner, as his attackers taunt him, slash his clothing with knives, and take turns slapping, punching and kicking him. … At one point, one of the attackers cuts a chunk of his hair and scalp off with a knife.”

“Let’s be clear: Violent acts committed against any person because of that person’s disability status and/or race are hate crimes under Illinois law,” said the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee. “We helped to make Illinois’ Hate Crime law as strong as possible for protected groups, and we have used the law to assist multiple victims in both criminal and civil proceedings. We have represented African American victims who were attacked by skinheads in Fox Lake, Latino families harassed and assaulted in Chicago, and we have secured multiple large civil verdicts to penalize offenders and send a strong message condemning and deterring such actions.

“What we saw on the video clips looks very much like a hate crime against a young man because of his disability status and race,” group argued. “But let us also acknowledge history and context here: Most victims of hate crime in our country are people of color; this has been true every year since the FBI has collected hate crime statistics. … What happened to this young man in Chicago is heart-breaking and intolerable. We must seek justice and healing for him and his family and demand appropriate punishment for his attackers. But as we do so, let us remember to speak up and insist on justice just as vociferously and promptly every time we hear of a hate crime, no matter the race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or disability status of the victim,” said the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee.

That is the point. There must be a single standard for the value of life and one standard for justice. Black youth who commit crimes cannot be seen as irredeemable or predisposed to criminal behavior and young Whites always seen as misguided youths who simply need a talking to and a chance. Black lives must matter as much as White lives. And if Blacks can be told by police to reserve judgment on cop shooting videos, it should not be surprising that Blacks would ask for the same position when evidence of alleged Black wrongdoing surfaces.

It is sad that simple justice remains so elusive in American society. Perhaps the problem is a nation founded with kidnapping, torture and abuse at it roots—and a refusal to confess its faults.

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