CHICAGO — The videotaped brutal beating of a teenager in a Chicago alley did not appear racially motivated, even though assailants in the footage can be heard repeating racial slurs and making derogatory comments about speaking Chinese, police said Tuesday.
On the video, several unknown assailants — many with sweat shirt hoods over their heads and some wearing masks — are seen repeatedly kicking and punching the 17-year-old victim to the snow-covered ground Sunday afternoon on the city's South Side. Authorities said the victim is of Asian descent.
Throughout the more than 3-minute video, the assailants, whose racial identities are unclear, can be heard using the "n-word" dozens of times and one attacker says, "Am I speaking Chinese to you, (n-word)?"
At times they used a shoe and a chunk of ice to strike the victim, as he pleads for them to stop in what sounds like broken or heavily accented English. However, the audio isn't always clear in the video, which was posted on YouTube and later removed for violating the site's policy "prohibiting hate speech." At the end of the video, the victim runs away with the assailants chasing him.
Police said the motive was robbery. The attackers allegedly took a pair of gym shoes, the victim's wallet and nearly $200 in cash.
Chicago police spokesman Mike Sullivan said six teenagers were being questioned Tuesday in connection with the beating. No charges had been filed.
The victim was taken to a hospital for a laceration to his lip, bruising and abrasions, authorities said.
"At this time, it does not appear that this incident was racially motivated," a Tuesday statement from the police department said. Chicago authorities declined to discuss further details, citing a pending investigation.
Members of CeaseFire, Chicago's most well-known anti-violence advocacy group, said that it did appear race was a factor in the attack, especially because of the usage of slurs.
"People use the 'N-word' whether they're African American, Latino or Asian," said CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman. "But when you beat up a guy, it's racially motivated."
The videotaped attack on a teen in Chicago isn't the first to go viral.
In 2009, footage of the fatal beating of a 16-year-old honor student was circulated worldwide. On the video captured by a cellphone camera, Derrion Albert is seen being punched and hit over his head with large boards and kicked in the head. The fight broke out after classes let out of a high school on Chicago' South Side.
Four teens were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences last year in the case that sparked outrage around the country. A fifth suspect tried as a juvenile was ordered to remain imprisoned until he turns 21.