While I never would endorse this behavior I totally understand it from a psychology standpoint. When you empower a bigot and racist, you are no better than said bigot and racist. And if that's the case, people on the other side of that hatred are going to take cause with it and act accordingly.
In short... there are consequences to your actions. Life.
So... did the special needs white man empower these four criminals? Not to mention, empowerment requires intent. If people become bigots because of involuntary effects of other people's actions, then that is not empowerment. They became bigots because they let their emotions get the best of them instead of taking a step back and attempt to understand the situation.
In short... bigots and racists become bigots and racists because they lack self-responsibility. When you go as far as to kidnap, tie up, beat, torture, and tear of a piece of scalp of a person because of his/her skin color and political leanings, then that's f***ed up beyond reason. I'm glad that the public did not instantly devolve into riots, arson, and looting in response to the type of behavior these four criminals exhibited.