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Scapegoating BLM

There's no proof Black Lives Matter had anything to do with the torture of a disabled Chicago man

There’s no proof Black Lives Matter had anything to do with the torture of a disabled Chicago man

Update 5:08 p.m.: Four suspects who allegedly kidnapped a mentally disabled white man and tortured him for up to two days were charged with hate crimes, Chicago police announced in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The charges stem from the victim’s “diminished mental capacity, the fact they they tied him up, the obvious racial quotes,” police commander Kevin Duffin said. The suspects were black, police said. Three of the suspects are 18 years old, another is 24.

When asked whether the charges pertain to the victim’s mental state or his race, Duffin said, “It’s half a dozen of one, six of the other,” according to the Washington Post. 

Others charges for the four suspects include kidnapping, aggravated battery, and unlawful restraint, and three were also charged with burglary.

Tension is mounting online in response to the brutal torture of a white, mentally disabled man by four black suspects in Chicago Tuesday. One of the suspects broadcast the incident live on Facebook, and reactions to the shocking footage have laid bare, once again, how starkly divided, both racially and politically, the United States is, with many social media users saying Black Lives Matter should shoulder the blame.

The video shows the 18-year-old assailants, who were arrested Wednesday, shouting “Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck white people!” But there’s no evidence they were affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, nor is there any evidence that the victim was a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. A Chicago PD spokesman said Thursday that police don’t believe the victim was targeted because he was white, despite his attackers making “terrible racist statements.” However, according to ABC News, the authorities were considering whether the incident should fall into the hate crime category because the victim had “special needs.”

But as of Thursday, #BLMKinapping — using the acronym for the decentralized activist movement — was one of the top trending topics on Twitter. A version of that hashtag was first used early Wednesday evening.

Some social media users were calling on BLM activists (technically there are no “leaders” due to its decentralized structure) to disavow the violent act. Others suggested that the rhetoric used by some Black Lives Matter activists has fostered a climate of racial violence. Some even called for Black Lives Matter to be labeled as a hate group.

Others, meanwhile, used to hashtag to argue that black people and racial justice activists were being unfairly maligned by the incident. One social media user who describes himself as a anti-racism strategist argued that white violence is often framed in terms of mental health, whereas individual acts of black violence are seen as symptomatic of an entire race.

Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck, in response to a tweet accusing Trump of promoting and benefiting from racial hatred, tweeted, “You are right. Stand up with me and demand justice in Chicago for the beating of a disabled trump supporter by BLM.”

Black Lives Matter, which began in 2012 after Florida acquitted a white man who fatally shot a black unarmed teenager, has often been scapegoated for violence against police or white Americans and for crime rates in the nation’s cities (which saw a slight uptick in recent years but remain historically low).

Just last week, Chicago’s former top cop Garry McCarthy made headlines when he attributed the rising violence in the Windy City to Black Lives Matter, accusing protesters of cultivating a “political atmosphere of anti-police sentiment.” McCarthy was fired in 2015 due to his handling of the police-involved shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager shot 16 times.

A Black Lives Matter demonstration last summer in Dallas protesting the police killings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana descended into chaos when a sniper unaffiliated with the protest opened fire on police, killing five officers and injuring nine. Another similar incident took place 10 days later in Baton Rouge, leaving three officers dead. There was no evidence to suggest that either assailant had any connection to Black Lives Matter — in fact, both stressed that they were acting alone — but this didn’t stop some conservative lawmakers and police unionists from pointing fingers.

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly referred to the suspects as teens. 

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