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4 Charged With Hate Crimes In Chicago Over Beating Shot On Facebook Live


In Chicago today, four people were charged with hate crimes and other felonies involving the kidnapping and torture of a young man. The attack was streamed on Facebook Live, where police discovered the video. The attackers in the video who are black yell racist slurs while beating and cutting the victim, who is white.

Max Green of member station WBEZ reports on the charges and the victim in the crime that the police are calling sickening.

MAX GREEN, BYLINE: The victim is 18 years old, and his parents reported him missing Monday, telling police they had not heard from their son since dropping him off at a McDonald's in the Chicago suburb of Streamwood. Shortly thereafter, they began receiving text messages from someone claiming to have kidnapped him.

It's unclear what alerted the police to check Facebook, but they soon discovered a live streamed video depicting the missing man cowering in the corner of a room, tied up with his mouth bound in plastic. His eyes exude fear as his attackers repeatedly taunt and beat him, one cutting his scalp with a knife.

The young woman streaming the abuse on Facebook Live repeatedly turns the camera back to herself. For the next 25 minutes, the abuse continues for the world to see as the victim is repeatedly kicked and punched. Police say the torture went on for as long as six hours.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hey, cut this open.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Unintelligible).


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I'm going to (unintelligible).

GREEN: Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says the victim has an intellectual disability.


SUPERINTENDENT EDDIE JOHNSON: Let me be very clear. The actions in that video are reprehensible. That along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago.

GREEN: Police say because one of the attackers was a classmate of the victim, he may have gone with his captors willingly. At various points in the video, the offenders not only yell obscenities at the victim but direct profanities toward white people and President-elect Donald Trump. Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin says the department was seeking hate crime charges from the beginning.


COMMANDER KEVIN DUFFIN: His diminished mental capacity, the fact that they tied him up, the obvious racial quotes on - that they post live on Facebook - I mean taken in the totality of the circumstances, the state's attorney agreed with us.

GREEN: Julie Justicz is with the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She says just because the victim is white and his attackers are black doesn't make this a hate crime.

JULIE JUSTICZ: If you had four black youth attack a white person and steal their pocketbook, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a hate crime. It's probably just a crime of theft.

GREEN: She says the racist language used in the video and the fact that the victim has an intellectual disability make a stronger case for the hate crime charge. The video was initially removed from Facebook Live and YouTube but has since popped up again on other streaming services.

Facebook says videos are removed when they depict people celebrating or glorifying crime. Police say the victim has been reunited with his family, and the four individuals charged will appear in bond court tomorrow. For NPR News, I'm Max Green in Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Max Green