CHICAGO (NYTIMES) - The police here were questioning four people on Wednesday (Jan 4) as video circulated online showing a white teenager tied up and beaten as a group of young African-Americans shouted anti-white messages and insulted President-elect Donald Trump.
"It's sickening," Superintendent Eddie Johnson of the Chicago Police Department said. "It makes you wonder, what would make individuals treat somebody like that?"
The police said the victim was an 18-year-old man from suburban Chicago who had "mental health challenges" and who had been reported missing.
Officers spotted him on Tuesday (Jan 3) in a violent neighbourhood on Chicago's West Side and recognised that he was in distress, the police said. They sought treatment for him at a hospital and connected the beating to four people who were taken into custody later that day near where the bloodied man had been found.
A roughly 30-minute video clip shared widely online appeared to show a Facebook livestream of the assault. A group can be seen taunting and physically assaulting a man amid cursing and laughing. Much of the video focuses on one woman as she rambles, at times incoherently.
The video begins with a shot of that woman before turning to the victim, who is seated in the corner of a room with his mouth covered. The woman laughs as two men cut the sleeve of the victim's shirt. One of the men yells epithets about Mr Trump and "white people".
Later, a man cuts a patch of hair from the victim's head, appearing to draw blood in the process.
Supt Johnson said criminal charges against the suspects, two men and two women, could be announced on Thursday (Jan 5).
Investigators said that they were not yet sure of a motive but that they could pursue hate crime and kidnapping charges if the evidence warranted. The victim knew one of his attackers, the police said, and had been taken from the suburbs to the city and held for some time before the beating was streamed online.
"Images in the video put on display the brazenness of the offenders who assaulted the victim and then broadcast it for the entire world to see," Supt Johnson said.
The victim, whom the police did not name, was hospitalised for undisclosed injuries but had been released by Wednesday (Jan 4) evening and was speaking with investigators. The police said he was traumatised and initially had trouble communicating with detectives.
The video's spread online comes at a time of relentless violence in Chicago. In a Twitter post this week, Mr Trump cited Chicago's 762 homicides last year and suggested that the city should seek federal help if local efforts to control the violence continued to be ineffective.
Supt Johnson declined to speculate on whether the president-elect's Twitter message and the beating on the video were connected.