Brittany Covington, of Chicago; (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, of Chicago; Jordan Hill, of Carpentersville; and Tanishia Covington, of Chicago. | Chicago Police

Mitchell: When is a hate crime a hate crime?

SHARE Mitchell: When is a hate crime a hate crime?
SHARE Mitchell: When is a hate crime a hate crime?

Follow @MaryMitchellCSTThey are certainly a disgusting bunch.

Jordan Hill, 18, Tesfaye Cooper, 18, Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, are accused of holding a disabled young white man against his will on the West Side.

The attackers were caught on camera threatening and cutting the 18-year-old man with a knife, making him drink from a toilet, kiss the floor and taunting him.

After some initial reluctance, the authorities charged the four with a hate crime.

They say the victim was forced to say, “I love black people,” and that during the attack someone yelled “F___Trump” and “F___white people.”

The hate-crime charges in this case come in contrast to what happened just two months ago. The day after Trump won the presidential election, four young black people allegedly punched and kicked a white man on the West Side while yelling, “Don’t vote Trump.” They were charged with the assault but not with a hate crime.


Follow @MaryMitchellCSTUnder Illinois law, “A person commits a hate crime when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass.”

A hate crime is a Class 3 felony for a first offense.

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who can’t seem to catch a break, called the latest attack “reprehensible” at a news conference on Wednesday.

By Thursday, the outrage had ramped up considerably, with President Barack Obama calling the video of the torture “despicable” and “terrible.”

The motley crew also was charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint,  aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, residential burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle.

This is horrible stuff. I’m glad these sorry people have been taken off the street.

Thankfully, the unidentified victim will recover from his injuries, though the emotional abuse seems likely to add to his mental challenges.

But given the times we live in, the criteria for charging someone with a hate crime can’t be based on outrage and political correctness.

The most mind-boggling part of this recent drama, and apparently the part that has led to hate crime charges, is that these losers live-streamed the abuse, posting it on Facebook. That’s what  brought this sick episode to the attention of millions.

With Chicago in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons of late, the case is a test for newly installed Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx and offers testament that racist behavior toward whites in the wake of the Trump presidency isn’t going to be overlooked.

But let’s be clear. As ugly as the assault upon the special needs young man was, this incident pales in comparison to what happened in Joliet in 2013.

Then, an even more depraved group of young white people lured Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover, two African-Americans, into a Joliet house, strangled them and then had sex on top of the corpses.

Adam Landerman, Alisa Massaro, Joshua Miner and Bethany McKee were each charged with first-degree murder and attempting to dismember the bodies.

Although the victims were black and the attackers white, a spokesman for the Will County state’s attorney’s office said at the time that prosecutors were unsure whether race was a factor in the murder.

Where was the outrage then?

In the end, hate-crime charges wouldn’t have mattered for three of the defendants.

Landerman got life in prison for the two murders. Miner and McKee also were found guilty and are serving life terms.

Massaro pleaded guilty to robbery and concealing a homicide and got a 10-year prison sentence.

Without a doubt, we should prosecute those who commit hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.

But we shouldn’t let the politics of race make the call.

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