The video depicts a level of cruelty that seems inconceivable. Yet it unfolds before your eyes: A cellphone video, posted for live consumption on Facebook, shows a mentally disabled young man from the suburbs with his mouth taped shut and his wrists bound as four people punch, cut and mock him.
The story of this incident rapidly went global — yet another act of inhumanity in a city that notoriously ended 2016 with 762 homicides.
Walk through this slowly:
Chicago police say the disabled man met with an acquaintance at a suburban McDonald’s on New Year’s Eve before being held against his will days later on Chicago’s West Side. His parents had reported him missing when he didn’t return home.
The video broadcast live Tuesday on Facebook shows him tied up in a corner as his captors cut his shirt and slice his scalp. Police say he also was forced to drink toilet water.
Police and prosecutors charged four suspects with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Three defendants also are charged with residential burglary and one with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
As cruel as the behavior depicted on the video is, equally ghastly is the sound track — punctuated by laughter. The woman shooting the video belly laughs as one of the offenders slices a chunk of hair from the young man’s scalp, bloodying him.
“Let me see ... ooooh,” she cackles, getting a closer shot of the victim’s head.
The trappings of a party surround the scene. Police say it appeared at least one of the suspects was smoking marijuana. Bottles of booze are captured on the tape.
The behavior is nothing short of monstrous.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called the acts on the video “reprehensible” and racist. At one point, the offenders lash out against “white people” and Donald Trump. All the while, the victim sits in a corner, defenseless.
He was able to get away when his captors confronted a downstairs neighbor and the neighbor called police. On Tuesday evening, police found him wandering in the Homan Square neighborhood, disoriented, injured and wearing shorts in the cold weather. They called an ambulance. They learned he had been reported “missing and endangered” in suburban Crystal Lake.
We leave questions of guilt or innocence to the courts. But any offenders convicted of these crimes likely will face stiff consequences for their actions, which police initially characterized as “stupid” prank-type behavior. Right. Just a bunch of kids goofing around. Police toughened their narrative by the time charges were filed Thursday, as they should have.
For Chicago, then, another grim moment.
It’s become all too routine.
We have the data to prove it.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE