Student reactions to the Chicago hate crime on Jan. 4

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Sepand Rouz

On Jan. 4 in Chicago, a white man was found walking along a street clearly in confusion. He had been tied up and tortured by both male and female African Americans ranging from the ages of 18 to 24 for up to 48 hours until police found him and questioned him about his state of distress. Chicago police had reported that the man had “mental health challenges.”

The crime was broadcasted through the livestreaming service Facebook live. The four attackers streamed a Facebook live video where they were kicking and hitting the victim. At one point, they even made him drink toilet water. On the video, the captors cursed at Donald Trump and white people. No one had reported the video to the police until the victim was found wandering the streets of a city he was unfamiliar with.

When junior Nicholas Chen heard about this news, he was shocked because of the treatment the victim received. But wasn’t outraged that the treatment he received was bad, but because it was too good.

Chen’s opinions are very different from what media outlets such as ABC and New York Times have been saying about this case. Over the past few days, a few reporters, such as CNN panelist Symone Sanders who is a Democratic strategist and political commentator, have been saying that this is not a hate crime.

“I think the disabled guy should check his white privilege,” Chen said. “If he was black he would have been tortured worse because in [this] country black people face systemic racism.”

Senior Oliver Guan, however, sides with the victim’s family, explaining that it was in fact a hate crime because of the way they verbally abused the victim.

“It doesn’t mean you have to go pick on someone,” Guan said. “If a Trump supporter was picking on black people, then obviously there is something wrong with them.”
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Guan’s opinion aligns with that of President Barack Obama. They both agree that this was an unfortunate occurrence and shouldn’t have happened just because the victim was white and mentally disabled.

“Part of what technology allows us to see now is the terrible toll that racism and discrimination and hate takes on families and communities,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Chicago station, WLS, “but that’s part of how we learn and how we get better.”

The video was around 30 minutes long, yet none of the viewers reported the actions to the police. Information surrounding the video was only found out after the victim was taken into police custody.

“If it was streamed on their Facebook accounts and if all the attacker’s friends were black and no one called the police then clearly something is wrong,” Guan said. “,But if it wasn’t streamed on their [Facebook] profile and no one called the police then that’s screwed up.”

According to ABC news, the family of the victim has received support from across the U.S. for the attack that had occurred to their son.

Part of the reason that this attack shocked people all around the world was also because the victim was mentally disabled and one of his attackers lured him in under the sense that they were friends. As senior Grace Nevitt heard about the news, she only felt one emotion, frustration.

“Even if I see you in the hallway and hear you use the word ‘retarded’ I cringe,” Nevitt said, “And the fact that people actually went out of their way to kidnap someone with special needs and abuse them is one of the most sick things I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”

Chicago police have claimed this at first as a brutal act, but with the court hearing on Jan. 6, the chances of the attackers having bail was denied. That means they will have at least 10 years in jail – the minimum sentence for aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Nevitt thought the sentence was justified.

“If you’re literally torturing someone, then you should [serve] a decent amount of time because clearly something is wrong with you,” Nevitt said. “If you take someone and torture them and stream it on Facebook for some unknown purpose.”