Four Black Chicago teens are in police custody after disturbing footage of them forcibly restraining and torturing a mentally disabled white man was live streamed on Facebook Tuesday evening.
The video, captured by 18-year-old Brittany Herring, showed three people (two male, one female) holding the disabled man hostage as they repeatedly punched and kicked him, and cut his scalp. The victim was even forced to drink water out of a toilet.
At one point, the man was held at knifepoint as his captors demanded he curse president-elect Donald Trump, all while his hands were tied up and his mouth shut with tape. “F-ck Trump!” and “F-ck white people,” someone was heard yelling.
“It’s sickening,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said. “You know it makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that.”
Chicago police said they weren’t made aware of the 30-minute video until Wednesday night, Fox32 News reported. Investigators said they believed the victim, who appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s, became acquainted with Herring and her three friends in the Streamwood suburb on Tuesday, after which he was driven to the West Side of Chicago in a stolen car.
The disabled man was then believed to have been tortured and held against his will at an apartment on the 4300 block of West Lexington, the news station reported. He was held by the four teens for at least 24 hours before they let him go, authorities said.
“It’s quite a possibility that this is a kidnapping and that’s certainly one of the charges we’ll be seeking if it turns out to be that,” Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin said. “But, he’s traumatized by the incident and it’s tough to communicate with him at this point.”
Chicago police said they spotted the mentally disabled man walking along a street on the West Side following the attack. Patrol officers said he appeared disoriented and they found it odd that he was wearing cut-off shorts in such cold weather. CBS Chicago reported that the man was then taken to a local hospital in stable condition and treated for his injuries.
Local activist Andrew Holmes called the video evidence of an apparent “hate crime.” But the Chicago Police Department said that while expletives about Trump and white Americans were heard throughout the footage, they don’t believe the attack was politically motivated.
“I think some of it is just stupidity, people just ranting about something that they think might make a headline,” Supt. Johnson said. “I don’t think that at this point we have anything concrete to really point us in that direction, but we’ll keep investigating and we’ll let the facts guide us on how this concludes.”
As news of the disturbing incident spread, white critics were quick to point the finger at Black Lives Matter, even though the social justice organization was never mentioned in the video. The hashtag #BLMKidnapping soon took social media by storm, sparking widespread disdain from supporters of the social justice group.
Doubtful I have anyone on my TL stupid enough to endorse #BLMKidnapping but just in case, where is the documented connection?
— Noel (@NoelEWilliams) January 5, 2017
#BLMKidnapping This was clearly a hate crime. But blaming BLM 4 the crimes of a few is hypocritical when ur motto is "Not all cops r racist"
— Faith Diane Logan-Kotee (@real_FaithDLK) January 5, 2017
— Darryl Clayton (@DarrylDclayton) January 5, 2017
… and distasteful comments from white people who believed the organization was directly responsible for the attack on the disabled man.
MSM covering up the racist kidnapping and torture of a white special needs teen! If vice versa, media would be all over it!#BLMKidnapping
— Makada (@_Makada_) January 5, 2017
— Alexander Supertramp (@hushlaa) January 5, 2017
Here's the point, BLM breeds hate the same as KKK and ISIS. Nobody from BLM will ever be MLKJR. #BLMKidnapping
— onecooljagsguy (@rhmillersr19) January 5, 2017
Criminal charges against Herring and the three others are expected to be filed as soon as Thursday, Jan 5.
** UPDATE **
The four Chicago teens who kidnapped a mentally disabled man and tortured him for hours on end were formally charged on Thursday, Jan. 5.
USA Today reported that the The Cook County prosecutors office criminally charged Tesfaye Cooper, 18, Brittany Covington (aka Brittany Herring), 18, Tanishia Covington, 24, and Jordan Hill, 18, with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary.
The four are scheduled to appear in court on Friday, Jan. 6.
Officials have stated that Black Lives Matter had no ties to the kidnapping and subsequent attack, despite claims circulating on social media.