Local hate crime trends for wrong reasons


Local hate crime trends for wrong reasons

By Brooke Pawling Stennett

Chicago was once again in the spotlight for violence after four African-Americans kidnapped a mentally disabled 18-year-old white male on Jan. 3, according to a Jan. 5 Washington Post article. The unidentified teen was bound, beaten and cut with a knife for all to see via Facebook Live—a feature on the social media platform that allows users to broadcast videos in real time.

But the distinct sound of two females and two males shouting “F–k Trump!” and “F–k white people!” on the video has become the focus of public attention. According to a Jan. 6 Chicago Tribune article, the four assailants will now face a hate crime charge in addition to being arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

A hate crime, according to FBI guidelines, is an attack that displays  personal bias against someone’s race, color, religion or national origin, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or gender. 

Frank Giancamilli, spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, denied any link between the crime and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the Washington Post. However, shortly after the video went viral, social media users began to spread the rumor under #BLMKidnapping.

Users of the hashtag demanded BLM take responsibility for the crime, despite the organization’s denials of involvement as its Chicago chapter did in a Jan. 5 DNAinfo article.

Social media commenters have pointed out a previous incident in which a black, handicapped 18-year-old was forced into a locker room at his high school by two white males and sexually assaulted with a coat hanger in Idaho on Oct. 23, 2015, as reported in a Dec. 19, 2016 Washington Post article. They question why the newly surfaced advocates for the disabled did not respond to that incident as well. 

What happened to the teen in Idaho is as vile as the Chicago attack, especially when race likely played a factor. Using the Chicago crime as an assault on BLM, however, transforms ignorance into hatred. 

Although authorities have established that the attackers have no affiliation with BLM, some continue to use this crime to defame the nonviolent civil movement.

The U.S. cannot progress toward a more tolerant future if generalizations like this continue. Assuming four black adults tortured a schizophrenic teen in the name of BLM continues to paint an untrue, violent picture of not only the movement but also the entire black community.