Condemning A Hate Crime Doesn’t Weaken Our Fight For Equality
For those of us in the liberal community that have fought for racial equality, the following story is more than just painful. It may even seem, to some, just too graphic to share. We might worry that it could be used by racists to attack Black Lives Matter (BLM) or to say anti-Trump protestors are all anti-white racists. We may shy away from sharing it because it is just too ugly: we shouldn’t. We must not.
First, what happened:
Four black youths committed a hate crime against a white, mentally disabled, 18-year-old in Chicago. All of the attackers in this story are legal adults, three are 18 and one is 24 years of age. One of them was known to the victim. The attackers, 2 men, and two women, took him from the suburbs in a stolen van. They then tortured him for up to 48 hours in a Chicago apartment.
(***This paragraph may be disturbing.***) During the ordeal, they cut parts of his clothing off with a knife while he huddled, tied in a corner. One assailant threatened to make the victim walk home “butt-ass naked,” and “kiss the floor.” The victim’s mouth was covered in tape. They kicked and punched him. They screamed “f*ck white people,” and “f*ck Trump”. At one point they forced him to profess how much he loves “black people.” They called him a “n****r.” They cut his hair off his scalp with a knife taking part of his skin with it. They pulled his body weight up by a tether around his neck, choking him. All while they were laughing, drinking, and acting like they were at a frat party. Eventually, police found the traumatized man wandering in shorts in the frigid weather.
They also live streamed 30 minutes of the possibly days-long torture. Police linked the victim to the video, and all four attackers are in custody.
The words “stupid decisions” by “young adults” were used by Commander Kevin Duffin of the Chicago police department — this is not a stupid decision. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson spoke in clearer, stronger, language:
“It’s sickening it makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve seen things that you shouldn’t see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still see things that you just shouldn’t.
“I’m not going to say it shocked me, but it was sickening.”
Anyone who can do this to a fellow human being is evil. But, the police have stopped short of calling this a hate crime, as of this writing. The fact that these four young adults live streaming part of the torture to facebook should make this easy to say: this was a hate crime. There is no question, these sick racists deserve to pay for this crime like any other racist.
This act doesn’t mean that all black people are evil, it means these four black people are. The color of their skin doesn’t change the fact that this attack is clearly motivated by racial hatred. Just like the terrorists Robert Lewis Dear (Christian motivated mass shooter, Planned Parenthood), Abdul Razak Ali Artan (ISIS motivated Ohio State car and knife attack), and the Dylan Roof (white supremacist motivated mass murderer) killing unarmed churchgoers because of the color of their skin — these four human beings deserve our outrage.
If we allow this to be treated any differently because we fear damaging our efforts it will become a weaponized assault from the white nationalist, so-called “Alt-right” movement.
If you don’t believe that, watch Fox News cover this, showcasing “F*ck Trump,” and police not calling it a hate crime (coverage begins at 1:30):
If this is not another “hoax,” then there is no other option than to demand they be charged to the fullest extent of the law. This must be charged as a hate crime. We must not flinch because the right will use this to attack us. They will use anything to attack us, and we can’t let that stop us from doing the right thing. The only thing that weakens our movement, in this case, is if we don’t condemn this.
As popular progressive essayist Jim Wright says, “we either are who we say we are, or we aren’t.”
***Update*** The Washington Post has reported that hate crime charges have been filed:
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it had filed felony criminal charges against three 18-year-olds — Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper and Brittany Covington — as well as Tanishia Covington, 24. Hill was listed as being from Carpentersville, Ill., a village about 40 miles from Chicago, while the others were described as being from Chicago.