The video will make you sick to your stomach. Or make you cry.
How can such cruelty exist? How could someone inflict all that pain and suffering on another human being? And for what? Because of the victim’s skin color? Because he was mentally disabled?
Sadly, history is replete with acts of depravity that shock the conscience. The latest happened in Chicago. Four black people, two men and two women, stand accused of beating and torturing a white teenager who is mentally handicapped.
The suspects so enjoyed their heinous acts, they videotaped themselves kicking, punching and cutting their victim with a knife. He was forced to drink out of a filthy toilet. Their torment lasted for almost two days. All the while, they laughed. The footage was displayed on Facebook.
The perpetrators are heard on the tape yelling obscenities about white people and Donald Trump. The victim is ordered to say, “I love black people.” How does any of that make sense?
Perhaps it is born of ignorance. But I suspect these individuals are somehow missing the essential faculties that elevate humans above all other species: compassion and the ability to distinguish right from wrong. The capacity to reason and feel.
After some deliberation, Chicago authorities have decided to charge Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, Brittany Covington and Tanishia Covington with hate crimes and a multitude of other offenses including kidnapping, battery with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint, all of which are aggravated crimes.
Because Illinois seeks to protect people from attacks based on both race and disability, this case presents two distinct kinds of hate crimes. Which means double trouble for the accused.
The star witness will be the videotape. It speaks for itself. The suspects are caught in all their malignity. The victim is seen in all his misery. The prosecution can rest its case without much more.
Yes, I am well aware of the “presumption of innocence.” And the defendants will get their day in court should they so choose. But they would be wise to avoid it. A plea deal would be a more judicious course, if for no other reason than to avoid further inflaming their community and the court.
I can’t imagine a jury ignoring the incontrovertible acts of brutality seen on the tape. But then, this is Chicago where criminal justice is to justice…as military music is to music.
But assuming the defendants are convicted, the real question is how the trial judge will punish. Judges in Chicago are notorious for meting out meager sentences. Thus, the rampant crime in “the windy city” that has made it the murder capital of America.
A judge who cares about law and order should rule that the sentences run consecutively, not concurrently. Throw away the key. The remote chance at rehabilitation should take a back seat to deterrence and retribution.
As sad and unnerving as the video is, the remark made by a Chicago police commander should illicit chills. He seemed to characterize the attack as driven by immaturity. “They’re young adults, he said. “And they make stupid decisions.” As for the racist taunts, he held out the possibility that they were nothing more than “stupid ranting and raving.”
No, sir… these were not the acts of callow misspent youth. This was torture driven by racial animus.
Whether it comes from a white man who gunned down nine black parishioners in Charleston or from four black people who inflicted savagery on a white mentally disabled man, it makes little difference.
Society should give no quarter to bigotry, nor sanction to persecution.