The Facebook Live stream of an assault against a mentally disabled young man in Chicago led to the circulation of the disturbing images among millions of Americans. A lingering effect could be a greater awareness of the fact that people with disabilities are subject to violent crimes at three times the rate of their non-disabled peers, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The suspects were charged yesterday with hate crimes. The charges are based partly on the fact that the 18-year-old victim was white and the four black suspects in the video yelled expletives about white people and Donald Trump.
They are also based on the victim’s disabilities, said Chicago police detective Kevin Duffin. Society has grown more inclusive of the disabled, schools have increased antibullying efforts, and some police have increased training, but when it comes to addressing “our core dehumanization of people with disabilities … incidents like this show how far we have to go,” says history Prof. David Perry of Dominican University in River Forest, Il., an advocate for disability rights. Among the categories of disability, those with cognitive disabilities experience the highest rates of violent crime. Victim service providers increasingly recognize “this is a community that they need to develop relationships with so there is support for people in the aftermath of violence,” says Nancy Smith of the Vera Institute of Justice. Vera has worked in 60 communities to help bridge such gaps. Some states and the federal government include a victim’s disability status as a hate-crime category. The FBI’s 2015 hate crime statistics show that 1.3 percent of the 5,850 reported incidents were prompted by disability bias. Those numbers probably undercount the problem, says Curtis Decker of the National Disability Rights Network.