Four young black people are due to appear in court in Chicago on Friday charged with hate crimes, aggravated kidnap, battery, and other offences after the assault of a mentally disabled white man.
Jordan Hill, 18, Tesfaye Cooper, 18, Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanisha Covington, 24, are said to have live-streamed their attack on Facebook.
The outgoing US President Barack Obama has described the attack as “terrible”.
“Part of what technology allows us to see now is the terrible toll that racism, discrimination and hate takes on families and communities,” he told local TV station ABC7 Chicago..
“We don’t benefit from pretending that racism doesn’t exist and hate doesn’t exist. We don’t benefit from not talking about it. The fact that these things are surfacing means we can solve them,” Obama added.
In the video the victim is seen cowering in a corner, bound and gagged, whilst he is beaten, partially scalped with a knife, his clothes are ripped, and a tie is tightened around his neck.
During the attack, the assailants are heard making derogatory remarks about white people and Donald Trump. Some of the speech on the video is slurred.
Police believe that the victim knew the quartet, who abducted him from the suburbs in a stolen van, and held him captive for between 24 and 48 hours.
‘A sickening attack’
Eddie Johnson, Chicago Police Department Superintendent, who had earlier described the attack as “sickening”, said that “the actions in that video are reprehensible, and, along with racism, have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, against anyone, regardless of their race, gender, state of mental health, or any other identifying factor”.
The hate crime aspect of the assault earlier gave rise to heated debate on twitter and other social media.
The Newest: Police take a look at hate crime legal guidelines in Chicago assault https://t.co/IYoyeb8VAj— WB News (@wbfullstories) January 5, 2017
Traumatised and disorientated
The victim was found wandering the streets in a traumatised and disorientated condition after the attack. He was taken to hospital, but the police found it difficult to encourage him to talk about what happened.
Questions have been asked about whether Facebook should have allowed such a disturbing video to be live-streamed on its site.
A spokesperson said in a statement: “We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”