It’s a video where you don’t want to look, and yet you shouldn’t look away. This is where we are in 2020 — and not just because of the violence in the video.
It all began with a video that surfaced on social media this week. The violent incident took place recently at the Thomas Terry apartments in Brooklyn, Illinois.
According to published reports, the video showed three teens attacking a woman outside her home. This was ugly and dispiriting enough.
That wasn’t the worst of it, though: The woman was with her 4-year-old toddler.
In the video, two teens can be seen punching and kicking the victim; her baby girl clearly can be heard crying and tries to hold on to her mother’s leg.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic violence and language that some viewers will find offensive.
Then, the merely violent turns inexplicable: The third teen, who had been lurking on the sidelines, comes in and delivers a flying kick to the head of the 4-year-old toddler.
That teen then turns his attention to the mother, stomping her as the other members of the group continue their assault.
One of the individuals who posted the video captioned it, “Couldn’t been my baby I’ll be in jail on a F—IN MURDER CHARGE.”
Couldn’t been my baby I’ll be in jail on a FUCKIN MURDER CHARGE??? pic.twitter.com/yFyyFnjwrM
— ??? (@taeukno010) July 13, 2020
The assault doesn’t last 30 seconds — or at least the part captured on video doesn’t. It ends as the toddler cries and a final kick is delivered to the back of the mother.
According to KMOV-TV, the mother and daughter were taken to the hospital. Neither was seriously hurt. The mother, Chelsea Bryant, was treated for a concussion and a sprained finger. The daughter, miraculously, suffered only minor injuries.
Three teens have been charged in the case. Tyreiel N. Brown, 19, faces two counts of aggravated battery in a public place. Chelsey A. Gordon, 19, faces the same charges. Both also will face charges of mob action by two or more people. A third person, a juvenile, also has been charged.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the charging document says Brown and Gordon “knowingly, by the use of force or violence, disturbed the public peace when they acted together with a juvenile male and struck and kicked Chelsea Bryant about her body.”
The mother of the young man seen delivering the flying kick to the toddler said, a bit dubiously, that her son didn’t mean to do it.
“He didn’t try to kick that baby; he tried to jump over the baby on to her and made a mistake,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “My kid is not the type to kick a baby; accidents happen.”
By merely reporting on the basic facts of the case, I come across as a cultural gawker. I’m tut-tutting violence — and yet, what good does that do? We all say that — even as we become more and more inured to it.
However, there is one fact about this assault that made me realize just how inured and disconnected we are: Police in Brooklyn, Illinois, didn’t find out about this assault from the mother. The person who took the video didn’t report it. Assuming they’re different individuals, the person who uploaded the video didn’t report it to the authorities, either.
Instead, law enforcement found out about it when the story appeared in a British tabloid.
I said you needed to watch this video. I want you to watch it again, if you can, knowing the grim realities of the case — at least, what we know now.
Remember when we were watching videos of people fighting over toilet paper? Remember how we joked we were in the first act of a zombie movie? We aren’t. We’re still human. Watch the video and think about that. We live in a world where three teens attacked a mother whose toddler was hanging off her leg — and then delivered a flying kick to the toddler.
A person behind the camera uploaded the video of the incident not because the person was disgusted by it. He or she was entertained, and they thought you’d be, too.
Enough of you were. As of Saturday afternoon, the video had 1.5 million views, and assumedly they’re not all Calvinists trying to assure themselves the doctrine of total depravity still holds true.
And then the newspapers picked it up — including the British tabloids, where propriety goes to die. That’s when the police realized what had happened.
We sit behind cameras and screens and watch this happen. Then, a select few of us act it out. This probably wasn’t even the most violent video on social media the day it was posted. It’s just the one everyone seemed to click on.
And yet, we don’t just see this on social media. We’ve seen it too often on our TV screens these past few weeks. For some of us, we see it in our neighborhood.
Our culture cannot go on like this. We’re wearied, isolated, soft, jaded, calloused, bereft of spiritual values. I don’t expect this one video to cause the scales to fall from everyone’s eyes. It has to start somewhere, though — and if it begins with just one of you, it would be worth it.
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