After 19 agonizing months, the now infamous Chicago Facebook live kidnapping & torture trial has finally come to an end.
The last defendant, 20-yr-old Tesfaye Cooper, will be sent to prison for the next 7 years after maliciously and abusively beating a mentally disabled teenage male while he and his friends live-streamed the violent display of inhumanity on Facebook.
The video spread across social media like a wildfire. It quickly became the biggest national news story in the first week of 2017. The media couldn't resist the chance for sensationalism. After all, a group of African-American teens from the Chicago-land area tied up an incredibly vulnerable person (who happens to be white) and performed horrifying acts for the amusement of themselves and the hypothetical webcam viewers who watched online.
In the video they said they were doing it all in an attempt to get revenge on white America for the election of Donald Trump, but the person they chose to victimize was neither a Republican nor a Trump supporter (not because he supported a different ideology, but because he lacked the intellectual capacity to have a strong political opinion of any sort).
Even still, the content of the video was very clear: a white person was being tortured by black people in the name of Leftism, and that was enough to drive the national news media crazy.
Journalists from the world of both print and digital, along with TV talking heads, described how the suspects tied up the disabled teen and tormented him with knives as they cut his clothing, hair, face and scalp. Unable to move, covered in cigarette ashes and burn marks, the victim struggled to breath with a gag in his mouth while his attackers slapped and mocked him before shoving his head into a toilet.
The attackers shouted "F*** Trump" and "F*** white people", as if torturing a disabled person would somehow change the results of the election or end racism in America. In reality, their behavior only strengthened the racial divide in our country while the 15 minute cable news cycle exploited their deeds for TV ratings.
At some point, one of the suspects contacted the victim's mother and demanded a $300 ransom. They were very clear: they would kill the victim if his parents didn't pay. Kidnapping a disabled person was dumb, but threatening to kill him over a relatively small amount of money was even dumber. Considering how blatantly reckless their crime was, it's hard to believe any of the suspects were even smart enough to vote in the last election, much less care about the results.
Investigators believe the ordeal finally ended after neighbors in a nearby apartment complained about the noise. Apparently torturing a disabled person isn't something you can do quietly. The victim was finally freed and discovered by police roaming the streets in the frigid Chicago winter weather, barely dressed, covered in blood and extremely disheveled from the experience.
It's hard to describe in words something so vile and profane, but it happened and millions of people all over the world saw the video. But now the trial, much like the crime itself, is finally over.
While some might think 7 years is a long time to spend locked up in a state institution, it's a pretty light sentence for someone guilty of aggravated kidnapping and hate crime charges committed against a person with disabilities.
Earlier this month Cooper's friend Jordan Hill, described by prosecutors as the ringleader of the affair, was sentenced to 8 years after pleaded guilty to the same charges. Their friends, sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, also pleaded guilty to the assault but were given even lighter sentences. I'm not sure what the proper punishment should be for someone who tortures a disabled person while they brag about their crime on social media, but our legal system has issued harsher sentences to plenty of non-violent criminals, some of whom are still in prison to this day.
Even still, as disappointing as the sentencing might be, it must be a relief for the victim and his family to finally be done with this whole fiasco. It's difficult to believe that what we witnessed in that courtroom could be described as "justice". Heck, I'm not even sure our justice system is capable of fixing the sort of sick and demented beings who would conceive such an atrociously heinous act. Our prisons weren't designed to fill the empty void that exists inside the minds of these young criminals. I don't have to meet the parents of the four suspects to see how they failed to properly raise their children. When these monsters finally get out, they'll probably be more hardened and hateful than when they first went in (and there's really nothing we can do about that but wait and see what happens).
But for the victim and his family, this chapter of their lives is finally over; no more court dates or phone calls from investigators, no more late nights wondering what the judge will say tomorrow. They can finally breath again. The case is done and now they will begin the long and difficult process of trying to recover, forgive and forget, if those things are even possible. Please pray for them.