Four young adults in Chicago are facing a wide array of criminal charges after they live-streamed their torturing of a mentally disabled man, but the episode is also triggering a backlash against the media for allegedly treating the case differently because the perpetrators are black and the victim is white.
The video shows the victim blindfolded and gagged. The alleged perpetrators cut the victim’s sweatshirt and a piece of his scalp. Screamed insults also pepper the 30-minute video, including rants of “F–k Donald Trump” and “F–ck white people.” While the video lasted half an hour, the entire ordeal played out over 1-2 days.
On Thursday, Chicago police announced charges against Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper and Brittany Covington, all 18 years old, as well as 24-year-old Tanishia Covington. All have been charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery.
While members of the media are expressing outrage across the board, critics point out the anger seems much more subdued than if the races were reversed.
The firestorm over media reaction began Wednesday, when CNN’s Don Lemon rejected the opinion of a guest that the torture was the result of evil
“I don’t think it’s evil,” he said. ““I don’t think it’s evil. I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training,” said Lemon.
“I have no idea who is raising these young people, because no one I know on earth who is 17-years-old or 70-years-old would ever think of treating another person like that,” he continued. “You wonder, at 18-years-old, where is your parent, where is your guardian?”
Another panelist in the CNN discussion, Democratic strategist Symone Sanders, wasn’t sure hate crime charges were appropriate.
But at least one prominent black conservative is shaking his head that Lemon could not see evil in the video.
Hear the interview:
“The mainstream media appears to have this thesis: When a minority does something so wicked, so depraved they come up with an excuse. When a non-minority does the same thing, they can never see an excuse,” said Horace Cooper, an attorney and co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board. Project 21 is a national leadership network of black conservatives.
Cooper is quick to point out that poor or non-existent parenting may well play a role in the depravity of the four people charged, but that doesn’t change the fact the video depicted evil.
“If he had said, ‘This is evil and it probably stems from bad parenting,’ he probably could have gotten my acquiescence and support for his observations. The destruction of the family in America, and in particularly in the black family, has wrought victimhood in so many ways,” said Cooper.
“I can’t [explain] a person who looks at this video and listens to what happens and then learns that this took place over several days and not think ‘evil’ as the first mindset that comes,” said Cooper.
The frustration with the media boiled over again Thursday afternoon, when Washington Post columnist Callum Borchers wrote that the video serves as a validation of Trump voters’ concerns over media bias, Chicago violence and targeting of Trump supporters.
But he also claims there is a valid reason why this story is getting far less coverage than if the perpetrators were white and the victim black.
“If the attackers had been white and the victim had been black, the incident would have, of course, conjured America’s ugly history of white mobs committing violence against black people. There is no parallel history of the reverse happening on anything remotely approaching the same scale,” Borchers wrote.
Cooper is stunned by that rationale.
“I’m appalled. Martin Luther King said that he longed for an America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” said Cooper.
Cooper says the media, and the rest of us, need to call out evil without regard to the demographic issues involved.
“We ought to be able to come together as a society – and I mean by society the mainstream media. We will give no space, no quarter to this kind of behavior,” said Cooper, who also says the Obama administration’s silence on the issue until late afternoon Thursday is also telling.
“I’m also disappointed that the president of the United States hasn’t issued a statement – and not just this particular case, hasn’t found an example like it to issue a statement. No one from the Department of Justice has issued a statement,” said Cooper.
Given Obama administration action in other racially charged cases, Cooper says the silence here is deafening.
“It sends the signal that somehow the depravity that we witnessed is different because this individual isn’t a minority. I think that is completely wrong. That is completely obnoxious. And it runs afoul of the whole idea that all Americans are equal before the law,” said Cooper.
The four suspects will face the legal system, as announced by the Chicago police on Thursday. However, Cooper points out that the same Justice Department that parachuted into Ferguson looking at hate crime charges in the Michael Brown case was nowhere to be found this time.
“Why hasn’t the media called out the Department of Justice for its silence on this matter, for its lack of regard for the depravity that is witnessed here. If this isn’t a civil rights violation, I guess I don’t understand what one looks like,” said Cooper.