President Barack Obama weighed in on a headline-grabbing hate crime committed by 4 young black people on a mentally disabled white man in his hometown of Chicago.
In two separate interviews on Thursday, President Obama referred to the attack as a “despicable” and “terrible” hate crime.
The outgoing president discussed the high profile racist attack in the context of race relations in America during his presidency. Obama defended his legacy, saying racism hasn’t gotten worse following his historic election in 2008.
“I don’t think it’s accurate to say that race relations have gotten worse [on my watch],” he said defensively.
“I promise you, for the most part, race relations have gotten better,” he said.
President Obama did not apologize for ignoring the soaring violence in Chicago during his two terms in office. 54 people were shot in Chicago in the first 4 days of the new year.
“What we have seen as surfacing, I think, are a lot of problems that have been there a long time,” he said in an interview with local Chicago station CBS 2.
“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,” he said. “The fact that these things are being surfaced means we can solve them.”
The attack on the unidentified Chicago man was broadcast on Facebook Live by three 18-year-olds and a 24-year-old woman. All have been arrested and are being held without bail.
The video shows the victim with his mouth taped shut and both hands bound while slumped in a corner of a room. Two of the black teens are seen in the video kicking the man, cutting his sweatshirt, forcing him to drink from a toilet and yelling “f-ck Donald Trump” and “f-ck white people”. The attack went on for 4 or 5 hours.
The suspects are identified as Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper, and Jordan Hill, all 18. Police also arrested 24-year-old Tanishia Covington.
The 4 were charged with hate crimes in addition to kidnapping, aggravated battery, burglary and aggravated unlawful restraint. The hate crimes were added later after police viewed the Facebook video. The attackers made numerous references to the victim’s race and mental disabilities.
The victim is a former classmate of Hill’s, who initially met with Hill at a local McDonald’s and went with him voluntarily. Hill drove the man around for two days, eventually ending up at the home of 2 of the suspects.
The victim escaped after 2 of the thugs left and kicked in the door of a downstairs neighbor who complained about the noise and threatened to call the police.
Police found the disoriented man walking along a suburban Chicago street. He wore a bloody tank top that was turned inside out and backwards. He was also wearing denim shorts and flip flops despite the freezing cold temperatures.
The thugs reportedly sent text messages to the man’s parents, taunting them and demanding ransom for his safe return. The parents reported their son missing on Monday, Jan. 2nd.
The victim’s parents say their son met up with Hill on December 31 to begin what they and the victim believed was a sleepover with Hill.
CAUTION: Video contains scenes of graphic violence and may be disturbing to some viewers.