On Thursday, Chicago police are expected to charge four black teenagers after a Facebook Live video surfaced of them binding, gagging, and assaulting a young white man, described by police as having “mental health challenges.”
The torture incident apparently happened over the weekend on the west side of Chicago, and police arrested the suspects late Wednesday. Interim superintendent of Chicago PD, Eddie Johnson, held a press conference regarding the graphic video after the arrests:
In the press conference, Johnson doesn’t reference the race of either the offenders or their victim, instead saying:
Video of a brutal act towards an adult male with mental health challenges made its way onto social media. The images in the video put on display the brazenness of the offenders who assaulted the victim and then broadcast it for the entire world to see.
Officers who were investigating a suspected battery at a nearby home late Wednesday made a connection between that incident and the hospitalized man, noting that the residence showed signs of a struggle.
Facebook flagged and removed the video from its site for violating its terms and services, releasing this 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.
Though now removed, the video itself has been ripped and embedded into news clips and tweets across the internet, where it’s being shared under the hashtag #BLMKidnapping, referencing the Black Lives Matter activist group. A tweet shared Wednesday afternoon that linked to a partial YouTube rip under the hashtag #BLM was retweeted by Mike Cernovich, an alt-right author with a dedicated right wing following.
Cernovich was the first to use the #BLMKidnapping tag to continue the association. Though anti-white slurs are repeated throughout the video, none of the four assailants say “Black Lives Matter.” Nonetheless, Cernovich referred to the attackers as “Black Lives Matter activists.”
Police are investigating whether the slurs are evidence enough to designate the assault a hate crime. However, there’s no evidence to suggest that the attacks were coordinated by, in reference to, or a result of, Black Lives Matter or protests. DeRay, one of the most visible Black Lives Matter activists, has condemned the attack and identified photoshopped tweets in which he appears to support it.