Some news panelists are rushing to the defense of the four black people in Chicago who kidnapped and tortured a mentally disabled white man — saying the savage attack was not, in fact, a hate crime and that Donald Trump is ultimately to blame.
NBC News correspondent Ron Mott and CNN political commentator Symone Sanders have both gone on the air and claimed that they believe the suspects were simply acting out of stupidity, rather than racism.
“You look at it on the surface, you think kids can make some really poor decisions from time to time,” Mott said Thursday during an interview with MSNBC’s Craig Melvin. “They made so many errors, if they were truly trying to be criminal, to obviously broadcast your crime is not a smart thing to do.”
Speaking during a panel discussing on Wednesday night, Sanders argued that the suspects’ actions were the result of a hate-filled election season — and that the media should be blaming President-elect Trump for stirring up emotions of anger and hostility in people across the country.
“I just want to remind folks that we cannot sit here and ignore that — at least for the last year on very public display — the worst parts of America have been brought from the fringe into the mainstream,” the former Bernie Sanders spokesman explained. “That affects people on both sides. We’ve talked about white nationalists and white supremacists and the KKK, but there also, when this inflammatory rhetoric is out there, when someone is repeatedly telling you that your community is the worst of the worst, it brings out the worst of the worst in people.”
The four suspects — identified as Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper; 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24 — were each charged with a hate crime on Thursday along with felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery.
But Sanders said she believes the attack — in which the four accused suspects yelled f**k Donald Trump” and “f**k white people” — was being completely mislabeled.
“That is not a hate crime,” she said. “Hate crimes are because of a person’s racial ethnicity, their religion, their gender, a disability, it isn’t your political leanings, because someone doesn’t like your political leanings and they do something bad to you, that is not a hate crime.”
While Sanders refused to admit that the suspects appeared to target their victim because of his skin color, Mott said it could appear so. But he feels their actions were those of criminals, and not racists.
“When you add in the criminal element here, the fact that they stole someone’s vehicle, the fact that they apparently broke into a house where this alleged attack took place, the fact that they, you know, physically harmed this young person, held him against his will and then apparently, you know, texted the parents demanding some sort of monetary exchange to send him home, it goes beyond just stupid decisions by kids,” Mott said.
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