Let's be clear up front. This is not a piece about what is right or wrong, or how two wrongs do or don't make something right, or any other social debate surrounding the issues or positions associated with something being right or wrong, or right versus wrong. That is not what this piece is about. What we are talking about is not so easily characterized, categorized, or simplified. It may come across like that at times, but we assure you that is not what we are saying. The two crimes we will be highlighting are equally heinous, but were not equally covered and thus the outrage over them was not equal either. That begs a lot of questions, one of which is when is a hate crime a hate crime?
This particular piece is more about equality under the law, or equal protections under the law, than it is about the equality in the outrage and coverage that heinous crimes receive in this country. Equality or equitable treatment in accordance with the law is the overarching tenet of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Many of our ancestors and fellow advocates died fighting for the principles of this amendment in their attempts to hold us, and our detracting oppressors, accountable to this second of three so called Reconstruction Era amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
By now we are all at least somewhat familiar with what the media is calling the “Chicago torture”. We have undoubtedly accepted that what we have seen or what we have been told about the incident is indeed a torturous hate crime. It is the type of crime that warrants swift prosecution. When we review the State of Illinois' Statute on Hate Crime, we can't argue that what our young brothers and sisters in Chicago did wasn't a hate crime. Simply put it is, and we lose credibility as a community when we attempt to inject historical atrocities committed against us as a way of claiming what our youth did was a justifiable act of defense. That is a conversation for a different time and forum.
That being said, since what our young brothers and sisters in Chicago did is a hate crime, then we must ask ourselves what happened in the case of the 2013 Joliet Murders, which also occurred in the State of Illinois? Why was the Joliet case not considered and prosecuted as a hate crime? Where was the national coverage and outrage? Were we not appalled by what happened in Joliet because their was no video of the crime? Is it because one of the Joliet killers is the son of a Joliet Police Department Sgt? Read on and decide for yourself. Before you do know this, the Joliet Police Chief said, "This is one of the most brutal, heinous and upsetting things I’ve ever seen in my 27 years of law enforcement."
The Joliet case is not similar to the Chicago case. In our opinion, and that of others, Chicago pales in comparison to Joliet. In Joliet, four young White people lured two young Black men, who they may have been friends with, to a house where they tortured and strangled the two young Black men to death before having sex with each on top of the dead bodies of the two young Black men. That wasn't a misprint, but in case you missed it, here it is again. In January 2013 two young Black men were murdered by four young White people for no other apparent reason than the color of their skin. The White killers then had sex on top of the bodies of the two young Black men. Will County, IL State's Attorney Office said the prosecutors in the case weren't sure race was a factor, and thus the case wasn't handled as a hate crime. You can read more about that here.
Some of us already are or will engage in conversations about this latest Chicago story in some type of forum over the next few weeks as the media's coverage ramps up, or as politicians and bureaucrats move with convenient expediency to capitalize off it for the advancement of their careers. That's cool, let's have these conversations. However, as we do, please keep in mind that equality under the law applies to this country's application of its so-called criminal justice system. We can no longer pretend it is acceptable for crimes committed against Black people to be under-reported, while when the same types of crimes are committed by Black people, we act as if the world's coming to an end.
When we erase the color of skin as factors in Chicago, then we see that a young mentally disabled man was over powered, held against his will, and viciously tortured by four punk cowards. When we erase the color of skin as factors in Joliet, then we see that two young men were tricked, over powered, tortured, murdered, and had their dead corpses desecrated by four punk cowards who thought it would be a good idea to have sex on top of their bodies. Both crimes are viciously heinous, but when the final disposition of such a frightening situation for the victims is death followed by a desecration and attempted dismemberment of the victims' bodies, we are on another level of despicably disgusting human behavior.
If we're going to be outraged about what happened in Chicago, we must remember to be as equally pissed off about what happened and what did not happen in Joliet. If not, then we must not only ask ourselves, when is it hate, but what does equal protection under the law really mean? The two young Black men killed in Joliet, IL deserved just as much coverage and outrage over the torture, deaths, desecration, and attempted dismemberment their bodies experienced as the young mentally disabled man in Chicago is receiving.
The victims in Joliet deserved to have their killers forever labeled as racists, who were convicted not only for murder, but for committing a crime of hate against the color of their beautiful Black skin. That is what equal protection in accordance with the law is about. Those dead young men in Joliet also deserved to have a Go Fund Me campaign started in remembrance of their lives to help with whatever financial burdens their families had to deal with at the time of their loss. To give them anything less is unacceptable.
Before we close this piece we do want to note, and only because he chose to speak out on it. Obama called what happened in the Chicago torture case "despicable". That is fine because it is. But we found nothing where he said anything about what happened in Joliet. We acknowledge it is unrealistic to expect him to speak out on every single violent race related incident, but Joliet is only 47 miles Southwest of Chicago. Maybe Obama, like many of us, just didn't know that two Black men were lured to a house, over powered, tortured, murdered, etc in a town just outside of Chicago?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!