Speed Reads

Crime and punishment

Police say Chicago beating streamed on Facebook began as friendly meet-up at fast-food chain

On Thursday, police charged four suspects in the brutal assault of a mentally disabled 18-year-old with hate crimes as well as aggravated kidnapping and battery with a deadly weapon. The suspects — Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper, and Jordan Hill, all 18, and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington — are black and the victim is white. In a 30-minute video of the beating, broadcast on Facebook Live, the assailants are heard saying "f—k white people" and "f—k Donald Trump."

Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but Detective Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said the encounter began at a suburban McDonald's when Hill and the victim, former schoolmates, left together in what the victim and his parents believed was going to be a sleepover. Instead, Duffin said, Hill took the victim around for a few days in a stolen van and ended up at the Chicago home of two of the suspects, where the 4-5 hour ordeal occurred. The victim told police that the beating began as a friendly, playful fight, and that he was able to escape when his assailants went downstairs to kick in the door of a neighbor who was complaining about the noise.

The brutality of the assault, plus the racial aspect and the fact it went viral on social media, prompted a response from President Obama, who told ABC7 Chicago on Thursday that the attack was "despicable" and a sad reminder that racism and hate both still exist, though he said "for the most part, race relations have gotten better." The fact that the apparent hate crime was streamed on social media, he added, allows everyone to "see the terrible toll racism and discrimination and hate take on families and community," Obama said. "But that's part of how we learn and how we get better." Peter Weber