Four black young adults reportedly behind the torture of a white mentally disabled man in Chicago that was broadcast on Facebook Live have been arrested and charged with carrying out a hate crime, in addition to other charges (video below).
Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and sisters Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanisha Covington, 24, were charged on Jan. 5 with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated batter and a hate crime, stated the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, the Daily Mail reports.
Hill received the additional charges of robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle. He, Cooper and Brittany have also been charged with residential burglary.
The four were to attend a bail hearing at 1 p.m. CST on Jan. 6.
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At a press conference, Chicago police authorities said the unidentified victim and Hill were acquaintances from an Aurora, Illinois, school and had hung out a couple of times before.
The victim was to spend the night with Hill on Dec. 31 but was reported missing by his parents on Dec. 2 when they could not get in touch with their son.
Hill was allegedly driving a stolen van when he picked the victim up, a fact the victim was unaware of. For the first two days, the two visited friends and the victim reportedly slept in the vehicle at night.
Police say the pair reportedly visited the Covington sisters' residence in West Chicago on Jan. 3. Shortly after they arrived, with Cooper also at the house, Hill and the victim allegedly got into a play fight that then turned into blatant abuse.
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Police say the sisters then tied him up and the group of four began torturing the victim for about six hours. Half an hour of the abuse was live-streamed on Facebook and showed the four beating the young man, cutting into his scalp, and forcing him to drink toilet water. In the background of the video, one of the four shouts "f*** Donald Trump. F*** white people."
Police say the prolonged incident was loud and upset the neighbors downstairs who called the police to report the noise.
When three members of the group, who were angry with the neighbors, went downstairs to kick the neighbor's door in, the victim escaped.
Outside, a police officer saw the victim "bloodied and bruised," wearing only shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter, and decided to investigate. The officer found out that the young man had been reported missing by his parents.
Officials did not confirm that the group had texted the victim's parents while the victim was in their custody.
On Jan. 5, President Barack Obama said he saw the video but stated the "despicable" actions in the clip were not part of a larger wave of bad race relations in the U.S., CBS News reports.
"I don't think it's accurate to say race relations are getting worse," he told host Jay Levine. "In part because we see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth because of smart phones and the Internet."
"What we have seen as surfacing, I think, are a lot of problems that have been there a long time. Whether it's tensions between police and communities, whether it's hate crimes of the despicable sort that has just now recently surfaced on Facebook," the president said.
He continued: "The good news is that the next generation that's coming behind us ... have smarter, better, more thoughtful attitudes about race.
"I think the overall trajectory of race relations in this country is actually very positive. It doesn't mean that all racial problems have gone away. It means that we have the capacity to get better."
A representative for the police said the four young adults confessed to the torture in their interviews with the police but did not express remorse.
"The actions in that video are reprehensible. That 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," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said on Jan. 5.