Authorities in Chicago have charged four individuals with hate crimes following an apparent violent kidnapping broadcast live on Facebook.
The suspects allegedly bound an adult male with mental health challenges with whom they were previously acquainted at a high school in a suburb near Chicago. Police are uncertain as to the extent of the kidnapping and abuse, but for at least 24 and up to 48 hours, the suspects detained and verbally and physically assaulted the victim. The caucasian victim – who has no apparent political connections – was forced at one point to utter the phrase “fuck Trump,” while the kidnappers yelled “fuck white people,” along with other charged pronouncements. The four suspects are African-American.
While rightwing activists were quick to deploy the hashtag #BLMKidnapping to highlight the suspects’ verbal expression of hatred for white people, police were dismissive of any connection between the activist group and the assailants.
In addition to hate crime charges, the four suspects – Tesfaye Cooper, Jordan Hill, Brittany Covington, and Tanishia Covington – face charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated unlawful restraint, and robbery for their actions, which they broadcast live via Facebook for around 30 minutes. In the video, one of the assailants is seen menacing the victim with a knife, threatening to murder him, while the other suspects make oblique references to Donald Trump.