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GoFundMe campaign for Chicago beating victim raises $50K

CHICAGO -- An online fundraising effort to help the mentally disabled victim of a Chicago beating that was broadcast live on Facebook has pulled in more than $50,000 -- and the amount continued to climb on Friday.

“The perpetrators have been apprehended and hopefully swift justice will be served,” reads a description of the campaign, created on the fundraising website GoFundMe. “But let’s take an opportunity now to show this young man and his family some financial support during this difficult time of recovery and let him know there are many out there that are here for him.”  

“Let’s prove to him that there is far more good in this world than the evil he experienced,” it says.

The campaign’s description vows that all funds raised “will go directly to the young man and/or his family/guardians.”     

Bartlett Jackson, a regional communications manager with GoFundMe, confirmed that the victim’s family is working directly with the company on the campaign, called “Let’s show the Chicago victim love.” It pulled in $50,351 from more than 1,800 donors by Friday afternoon, surpassing its goal of $10,000.   

Four black suspects -- 18-year-olds Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill, and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington -- are charged with battery, kidnapping and hate crimes in connection to the attack of the white 18-year-old victim. Authorities say the victim was tied up for four to five hours.  

On Friday, bond was denied for the four defendants. 

Excerpts of a video posted by Chicago media outlets show assailants cutting off his sweatshirt and taunting him.   

The attack’s cruelty and intense social media exposure prompted President Obama to respond, calling it “despicable.”

“I take these things very seriously,” he told CBS Chicago in a White House interview Thursday.

But the president said the incident doesn’t mean race relations have gotten worse.

“We see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth because of smartphones and the internet and media ... a lot of the problems that have been there a long time,” Mr. Obama said.

“The good news is that the next generation that’s coming behind us ... have smarter, better, more thoughtful attitudes about race.”

Chicago police said drug use may have played a role in the beating. Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin said the video of it shows two suspects smoking cigars that authorities “presume to be blunts.” Duffin says the video shows the two sisters smoking while the victim is tied up, and at the same time racial slurs and references “to his mental capacity starts coming out.” 

The slurs include profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump. 

Police say the parents of the young man who was beaten received text messages while he was missing from someone claiming to be holding him captive. The victim’s parents reported their 18-year-old son missing on Monday in Streamwood, a Chicago suburb.

The parents said they hadn’t heard from their son since New Year’s Eve, when he said he was going to sleepover at a friend’s house. His mother told police she feared her son hadn’t taken medication for a mental health disorder.

Streamwood police say the parents later “began receiving text messages from persons claiming to be holding him captive.” While investigating the messages, police discovered the Facebook video. Chicago police later reported the man had been located.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and haven’t said who may have sent the messages. 

The suspects were scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

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