Three Chicago teens and one adult, Brittany Covington, 18; her sister Tanisha Covington, 24; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and Jordan Hill, 18, have been charged with hate crimes after a live Facebook video showed them torturing a mentally disabled teen for up to six hours, forcing him to drink toilet water, scream obscenities, and do other disturbing acts. Along with a hate crime charge, the group were charged on last Thursday with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery. Jordan Hill, who had used a stolen vehicle to transport the victim to the building where he would be bound and tortured, was separately charged with robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle. The tortured teenager had a connection with Jordan Hill, one of his attackers. The victim allegedly adored 18 year old Jordan Hill, however it is unknown whether or not it was a reciprocated friendship. Throughout the ordeal, the accused had made financial demands to the victim’s family through text. Surprisingly, the Facebook live video did not lead to their arrest, but rather the neighbors, who were disturbed by the noise being made upstairs, and called the police. When the group became angered by the interference of their neighbors and left the room to confront them, the victim took advantage of his chance to escape. The 18 year old victim was found by the police bruised, bloodied, and discombobulated, with negligible clothing, wandering the cold, dark streets.
The victim suffers from schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), conditions that many believe prompted the perpetrators to choose him as their victim. The controversy surrounding the crime is whether or not it was a hate crime, and if so, was the crime motivated by racism, political dissent, or the victim’s mental disabilities. In the despicable video, one of the accused can be heard expressing hatred towards Caucasians, as well as hatred towards President-Elect Donald Trump. There is no indication that the victim was a Trump supporter or had voted for him in the previous election. What is clear is that this sickening story has already began to widen the existing gaps between Americans of different backgrounds. There are those that argue hatred of white people fueled by recent Black Lives Matter protests prompted the attack, while others argue that liberal or democratic outright criticism of Donald Trump lead to the events. The abysmal racial, political, and social divides of this country are alarming and unbecoming of a self proclaimed democratic nation. Differences are what makes America unique, with people from all different backgrounds, whether it be racial, religious, political, or economic, contributing to America and building it up to be the powerhouse it still is today. In our history there are wounds and embarrassments, but our ability to unite when we need it the most is a common trait of all Americans. This disturbing story is just that, a disturbing story. It should not separate us or deter from our real issue, which is the lack of respect and basic love for one another. In the words of John Dickerson, “Until we recover this basic diplomacy, this basic human respect, we will remain a divided nation.”