By now I’m sure we’ve all heard about the beating and torture that was streamed on Facebook Live out of Chicago. What the headlines were quick to point out is that the suspects were black and the victim was white. What the media was not very quick to point out was everything else in the story. Then again, facts don’t sell papers or get clicks from Facebook, knee-jerk outrage does in these times. In what seems to be the norm these days, most people online were quick to defend their own personal biases in the wake of this story while the truth became lost. It’s my hope to wade through the muck of personal prejudice to find at least a rose petal of truth.
The 18-year-old man, who had been reported missing by his parents in Crystal Lake earlier this week, is shown crouching in a corner on a video carried on Facebook Live. His wrists are bound and his mouth is taped shut.
As a woman shoots the video, two men cut the man’s shirt with knives, then take turns punching him and stomping his head. One of the men cuts the victim’s hair and scalp with a knife, and it appears the man is bleeding.
As the man crouches against a wall, someone shouts, “F‑‑‑ Donald Trump” and “F‑‑‑ white people.”
That was all that was needed to send the Facebook knee-jerk brigade into full meltdown. In some cases, you could almost smell the kerosene being poured on the crosses. A lot of people seemed to be under the impression that this roving gang of black thugs was just roaming the streets of Chicago looking for someone white that they could torture because Trump won the election. Cries of ‘hate crime’ rang down from the pale tableau of the Facebook masses. Those charged with the attack are Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper; 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24. They have all been charged with hate crimes as the mob had demanded. As it turns out, race may have been the least of the motives involved.
Jordan Hill was actually said to be a friend of the victim. The victim’s parents dropped him off at a Chicago McDonald’s so the victim could have a sleepover at Hill’s. The attack was said to have occurred when the victim got into a ‘play fight’ with Hill and then the Covington sisters became annoyed with the victim, and that the attack may have escalated due to drugs and alcohol. Another motive that has been discussed is that the suspects had allegedly planned on extorting something from the victim’s family as they reportedly sent the victim’s family text messages saying that their son was being held captive. In yet another report, Hill allegedly started beating the victim when the victim’s parents kept trying to contact Hill about their son’s location. All four suspects have been held without bail.
Now having said all that, some of you may have the notion that somehow I am trying to excuse the four suspects from what they’ve done. Nothing could be further from the truth. They deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sentenced to whatever the maximum punishment may be. However, we shouldn’t be outraged by the races of everyone involved with this crime, but rather the fact that four people not only brutally tortured a special needs man but had the audacity to broadcast it live on Facebook. We shouldn’t be blaming the Black Lives Matter Movement or Donald Trump voters for this crime as no one involved is representative of either base. The only thing that race had to with this crime is that it made for inflammatory headlines. Should they have been charged with a hate crime? Absolutely, but mostly because the victim is mentally diminished.
Ask yourselves this. If the victim had been black, would this had been just another story out of crime-ridden Chicago? Would there be any Facebook outrage then? Respectively, those answers would be yes and no.
I’ll be posting more updates on this story as they become available and as time allows.
UPDATE 1/29/2017: On Friday the public defenders representing the quartet said they want their clients released because they “are young people who do not deserve to be there.” If this story wasn’t so tragic that might almost be funny. If they felt old enough to torture this poor man, then they’re old enough to be in jail.
UPDATE 2/11/2017: All four suspects have entered not guilty pleas and are being held without bond. Their next court appearance is scheduled for March 1st.
UPDATE 3/14/2017: A judge has ordered that private attorneys be assigned to Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, in order to avoid a conflict of interest with the Public Defender’s office.
UPDATE 12/11/2017: Brittany Covington has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges and has been sentenced to four years probation and has been banned from social media during that time. She must also avoid the other suspects, except her sister, and must complete 200 hours of community service. The other three suspects are still awaiting trial.
UPDATE 1/10/2018: Jordan Hill is facing additional assault charges after allegedly attacking another inmate while in custody.
UPDATE 4/20/2018: Tanishia Covington was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of intimidation and aggravated battery.
UPDATE 7/7/2018: Jordan Hill was sentenced to 8 years behind bars after rejecting a plea deal that would have resulted in a similar sentence.