The world was shocked when they saw the video of what four teenagers in the Chicago area filmed and posted to Facebook Live. Much more than your average “bullying” video, the content that was posted contained a mentally handicapped man being subjected to some of the most inhumane treatment that anyone could fathom.
President Barack Obama has maintained that since he took office, race relations have been strengthened and that blacks and whites in America share more racial harmony than any other time in American history. But what the media is telling us is something much different.
Many high-profile cases including white-on-black crime and police shooting allegedly innocent black men have surfaced, making entire cities explode with tension. The latest video differs only in one aspect from what people have been witnessing recently: the offenders were not white, nor were they policemen. They were four African-American youths displaying some of the cruelest behavior that the world has seen.
There is no doubt that the four teens were involved in assault and battery. Over the time that they held the disabled man hostage, they not only verbally assaulted him, but beat him throughout horrendous hours of torture. Only some of the incident was filmed and posted, but there is no argument that they abused the man and should be prosecuted for criminal assault and battery.
What is in question is whether what they did will be escalated to a hate crime. Since in the video you can hear racial slurs and the teenagers repeatedly calling the man’s race, out with distaste, it appears to many who saw the video that the man was taken hostage not only because he was mentally challenged, but because of the color of his skin.
The Attorney General has had no problem pressing charges against anyone who makes racist statements against African-Americans and the gay and lesbian community, but prosecuting a black person for a hate crime against someone who is Caucasian is not the standard.
The man from Crystal Lake, Illinois was beaten severely as the teens shouted obscenities about President-elect Trump. His mouth was covered with tape and his hands were bound with orange bands. The assault went on for over five hours and might have never been discovered if it wasn’t for the footage of the assault and battery going live on Facebook. The young man was found wandering aimlessly, clearly distressed and hurt when police picked him up.
Not only were the obscenities directed at Trump, but the teenagers also made clear references to white people. The Chicago Police superintendent, however, has been very unclear about whether they are going to prosecute the teens on just the assault and battery charges or whether they would face prosecution for a hate crime.
Trial attorneys will see to it that a hate crime would carry a much harsher penalty and be a federal offense, instead of just an assault and battery charge. It’s reasonable to charge them with a hate crime not only because he was mentally challenged, but also because of the racial comments made. In either case, escalating charges to a hate crime will allow for the prosecutor to impose much stiffer penalties.
If it had been a white group of teens torturing a black man, especially if he were disabled, there would be no question as to whether it was a hate crime or not. The mere fact that an offender is white and the defendant black typically classifies it as a hate crime. If the young teens are not held to the same standard of conduct, there is a reason to question the entire definition of “hate crime” and why it exists if it’s only for certain people.
A hate crime is a crime perpetrated on someone because of their race, gender, sexual preference or anything else that makes them vulnerable. If being disabled and beaten by four other people due to the color of your skin is not a hate crime, then the entire prosecution label needs to be reexamined.
For now, organizations like “Black Lives Matter” and other groups are defending the actions of the youths as nothing more than violence against another person in retaliation for the injustices put upon black Americans. If we want to have equality in America, it would seem necessary that we see all colors, not just one, as being worthy of protection from prosecution by others.