HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – On Friday, there were court hearings for four suspects seen beating a mentally-challenged man in a horrific video in Chicago. 4 young African Americans – three 18-year-old’s, one 23 year-old – have been charged with kidnapping and assaulting a white teenager with developmental disabilities, which Chicago authorities are treating as a hate crime.
Don Wright of Hadley told 22News he’s outraged at the incident, saying, “People shouldn’t treat them like that. Treat them like a regular human being. And people like that shouldn’t get away with it.”
On New Year’s Eve, the victim met up with 18 year-old Jordan Hill at a Chicago McDonald’s for a sleepover. Hill and three others are accused of tying the victim up, cutting his clothes, choking him, and forcing him to drink toilet water – all live on Facebook.
Authorities said the victim was targeted because he’s white and has special needs; it’s a reality Valle Dwight fears for her disabled child. “That’s our greatest fear, and I think any parent of a kid with developmental disabilities has that fear,” says Dwight.
Dwight is the Director of Communications for Pathlight, a Hadley organization that works with developmentally challenged people. She said special needs people are vulnerable and take longer to heal from trauma. “Our kids could be abused on a regular basis, and if there is no witness, they’re not necessarily able to tell us.”
Dwight urges everyone to get involved with the disabled in their community. Joyce Predmore of Northampton fought back tears thinking of the trauma the victim went through, and how she’s teaching her granddaughters to act differently. “Oh, that’s emotional. I’m teaching my granddaughters that. If somebody’s in a wheelchair and they ask ‘Why are they in a wheelchair?,’ I say, ‘Well why don’t you ask them? Talk to them.'”
If you see or experience a hate crime against someone with a developmental disability, Pathlight asks you to contact the following resources:
- If it’s an emergency, contact 911
- MASS Hatecrime Hotline: 800-994-3228
- Disable Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) – Abuse Reporting Hotline: 800-426-9009
- Community Services Options (CSO) Crisis Hotline:
- Franklin county: 413-774-5411
- Hampshire county: 413-586-5555
- Behavior Health Network Crisis Hotline (Hampden County): 413-733-6661