Chicago’s police superintendent and a police commander are drawing fire on social media for initially seeming to downplay the horrific torture video showing a group of teenagers attacking a special needs man. See above video.
Suspects use the “F” word to refer to President Elect Donald Trump and white people in the video, which streamed live on Facebook. One suspect also referred to the victim by his race, calling him a “b-tch as- white thug.” Yet, police hesitated to outright label it a hate crime at first.
However, police were talking a tougher tune on Thursday, January 5. “The actions in that video are reprehensible,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson insisted.
Charges were announced Thursday against Jordan Hill and Tesfaye Cooper, both 18, and two sisters, Brittany Herring (Covington) and Tanishia Covington in connection with the horrific videos, which have gone viral and been viewed by many thousands of people.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said they are charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary. They are all also charged with hate crime, a charge police hesitated on committing to Wednesday night. Police had drawn criticism on social media for refusing to outright label the crime as a hate crime during their initial news conference.
The most serious charge, aggravated kidnapping, carries a potential prison sentence of 30 years, with a minimum sentence of six years.
On Wednesday, though, some felt police seemed to downplay or mitigate the offenses by labeling them stupidity and stupid decisions and not being willing to outright call the incident a hate crime. Police say they were investigating all of the facts before making firm judgments.
Kevin Duffin, a police commander, said in a Wednesday news conference on the video:
You know although they are adults, they’re 18. Kids make stupid dec– I shouldn’t call them kids, they’re legally adults. But they are young adults, and they make stupid decisions. That certainly will be part of whether or not a hate crime – whether we seek a hate crime and determine whether or not this is sincere or just stupid ranting and raving.
A social media post ricocheting around the Internet says Duffin said the suspects made stupid “mistakes,” but he used the word decisions.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on Wednesday had labeled the attack stupidity, which some are also characterizing as downplaying the seriousness of the attack. Watch:
Johnson also said he didn’t think the crime was politically motivated, even though the teenagers in the video bring up Donald Trump in incendiary terms. “I think some of it’s just stupidity,” he said in the news conference. “You know, people just ranting about something they think might make a headline. At this point, we don’t have anything concrete to point us in that direction (of a hate crime), but we will keep investigating.”
Here’s the full press conference by Chicago police:
The Facebook Live videos show a group of black teenagers attacking and harassing a white special needs man. The woman streaming it, Brittany Herring, laughs during the video as other suspects say such things as “F-ck Donald Trump. F-ck white people, boy.” He is seen being kicked and punched. You can watch the video below.
They cut off pieces of the victim’s hair and order him to stand up, while the woman streaming the video calls him a “b-tch as- white thug.” At one point, she says that her little sister “said it’s not funny,” but she added, “This sh-t is hilarious.” In a second video, the suspects force the victim to drink from a toilet and to say “f-ck Donald Trump.” Four suspects are now under arrest, although they have not yet been identified by police.
Twitter reaction was swift:
Watch the videos here:
A man with special needs was tied up and tortured in a Facebook Live video in Chicago, police say. In the video a person can be heard yelling slurs about Donald Trump.Click here to read more
See photos of the two sisters under arrest here:
Brittany Herring (Brittany Covington) and Tanishia Covington are two sisters accused in the Chicago torture video Facebook Live case. See photos of them.Click here to read more
Read more about the video in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:
Un video de Facebook Live muestra cómo un hombre es atado y torturado en vivo por el internet.Click here to read more