CHICAGO — A depraved attack on a mentally disabled white teen broadcast live on Facebook allegedly by four black Chicago-area residents became a national rallying cry Thursday for conservative pundits who tried to pin the blame for the attack — without evidence — on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shown repeatedly on cable TV and shared tens of thousands of times online, the grotesque video of the 18-year-old being cut with a knife in the scalp and forced to drink toilet water led familiar right-wing talking heads including Glenn Beck, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and others to call for increased charges and to find fault with what they characterized as excessively permissive policing.
Beck urged his 1.1 million Twitter followers to “Stand up with me and demand justice in Chicago for the beating of a disabled trump supporter by BLM,” also accusing the media of “blindly encouraging” similar crimes.
Clarke, appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Wednesday, cited the case as evidence that “Rahm Emanuel has allowed Black Lives Matter and the ACLU to run the Chicago Police Department.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Fox News, “If this had been done to an African-American by four whites, every liberal in the country would be outraged, and there’d be no question but that it’s a hate crime.”
And after Chicago police, who are under a federal investigation of their policies and practices following their shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald, later Thursday charged four defendants with a hate crime, conservative author Mike Cernovich took a victory lap. He told his 185,000 followers that their activism had led to the charges.
“Sorry you are a loser with no impact,” Cernovich tweeted at an opponent who dared suggest that the case would have been charged as a hate crime without the conservative outcry.
The attacker’s shouts of “F — Donald Trump” and “F — white people” on the filmed attack convinced many on the right that the attack was motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement, though Chicago police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said Thursday they had found “no indication that it’s linked to any specific group,” and another police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said investigators believe the man was targeted because he had special needs, not because he was white.
Black Lives Matter Chicago tweeted Thursday that “BLM doesn’t condone violence and we are abhorred by this travesty. We hope he’s well & receiving care.”
In another tweet, it added, “In the mainstream imagination of today, anything horrible done by Black people will be associated with BLM. Funny how oppression works.”