The Murder of High School Student Derrion Albert: When is Gang Violence Going to Stop?
There is a line that one of the assailants cries as he and others beat sixteen-year-old Derrion Albert to death.
“Yeah, put that n*gger to sleep! Put him to sleep!”
That’s not anything a Klansman is uttering. That’s a young black man who probably doesn’t even attend school anymore, and already has a criminal record, and is probably illiterate. Now, it is easy to say that these particular kids are animals; but some people, on the whole, love to call black people that name regardless of whether they are gangbangers or presidents. Yes, these young men are criminals, and idiots in my view, but not all black people are criminals and idiots as well. And the parents, as well as the children, are afraid.
As you can see in the video […], there is a significant group of people fighting, punching, swinging boards and kicking in the street. Fox Chicago obtained the video which shows someone being hit by one of the boards and kicked and beaten after he falls to the ground. Albert died from blows from one of those boards. Also on the video, someone can be heard yelling, ‘Darrion, get up!’
Albert’s mother, Anjanette Albert, says that other student’s have told her that Derrion got drawn into the fight when he tried to help another student. Other students and staff from the Agape Community Center nearby pulled Derrion out of the fight, but it was too late to save him.
Although faces were not easily visible from the tape, police have been able to identify several of the perpetrators. They are using the tape to find clues as to who is responsible for the death of Derrion Albert. As of now there are four people being questioned about the attack, three are over 17 years of age.
Albert’s memorial service has been postponed until Monday at the request of Chicago Public Schools.
The five-minute melee left Darrion dead from a blow to the head and three other students hospitalized.
Derrion Albert was an honor student. He was the pride of his family, especially his grandfather, Joseph Walker, who helped to raise him. He was religious, and attended church. He was not a member of a gang. But apparently he was taken for one, for as “an innocent bystander,” he was caught up in the crossfire of two rival gangs at Fenger High School fighting right in front of the school. And also, because he may have stopped to help a wounded friend who was being kicked and hit with “splintered railroad ties” or two-by-fours, feet and fists. Thus, he himself became a victim.
At this point, the Chicago Police Department have arrested and charged four teenagers with murder one in Derrion Albert’s death. Their names are Silvanus Shannon, 19, Eugene Bailey, 18, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16, all Chicago residents. They have been charged as adults. Carson is the one who does have a criminal record. However, there were many more young men who were also involved and who may escape prosecution if residents and students do not step forward as part of the community and helps to stop the madness.
“It gets attention when someone dies, but this is every day with us,” says Kase Miles, who graduated from Fenger a year ago, pointing to a scar on his cheek that he says he received at school when someone attacked him from behind with brass knuckles. “It’s getting worse…. But if he wouldn’t have died, [the media] wouldn’t be here.”
Keeping students safe – especially as they walk to and from school – has become a challenge for Chicago schools and police. Since the academic year began three weeks ago, five Chicago children have been killed, says Phillip Jackson, founder of the Black Star Project, which is working to strengthen violence-stricken communities in Chicago. In 2008, more than 30 students were killed, according to the Associated Press, citing district figures.
“Schools by themselves can’t fix the problem,” Mr. Jackson says. “We have to get the community involved. Right now, the problem seems to be here at Fenger. Tomorrow, it will be another school.” Instead of the money that has come from Washington to bolster police presence, Jackson would like to see funds for more counselors, after-school programs, and job creation.
How many times have residents asked for these counselors, programs and jobs, and nothing’s happened? How many times have parents refused to haul their kids in before the cops did it for them? And how many times have people clammed up because snitching could get them killed?
This is what Florida boy reporter Damon Weaver had been trying to put across to Obama, about the problems in his own town and around his own school. A lot of children shooting other children, without hope and without compassion for even themselves.
Even worse, a small shrine that had been erected at the place where Derrion was killed was burned and destroyed over the weekend, ostensibly by the same gangbangers that had contributed to his death. Both rival gangs had had turns at beating Derrion.
Derrion liked it here so much, he decided to stay and live with his grandmother.
[Albert] said he loved going to school at Fenger.
Described as a grandmomma’s boy, Derrion loved wrestling, basketball and shopping. And as a high school junior he was becoming excited about the future.
“He was a great kid, a good student,” Albert said. “We were getting ready to start a plan for college. That’s all we would stay focused on… (We were) moving to the next stage.”
That next stage is now planning a funeral for Derrion. His mother wants to know why this happened. And had this to say to the person or people who killed her son, “… they couldn’t imagine what they just did.”
Of course, the assailants’ relatives are saying that they have the wrong youngsters, or that their kid would never do such a thing. Boy, I am getting real tired of these excuses.
Desiyan Bacon, Riley’s aunt, said her nephew didn’t have anything to do with the beating and was a friend of the victim.
“They need to stop the crime, but when they do it, they need to get the right person,” Bacon said.
Sure. Their families know or suspect that their sons, nephews or grandkids are in gangs, and yet they do little or nothing about it. Two mothers of the suspects, though, are convinced that their sons are responsible for the killing, but cannot believe what they have done.
One tearfully said she could not bear to look at the video. The other regretfully acknowledged it was her son on the video depicting the fatal beating of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert, 16.
“That’s Gene. That’s my son. I’m not going to lie about that,” said Sherry Smith, the mother of Eugene Riley, 18, one of four teens charged in the attack. “I do give my condolences to that family because (their) child shouldn’t have lost his life over this.”
The families of Carson and Bailey could not be immediately reached, but Smith and Tamaray Shannon, Silvonus Shannon’s mother, said there was a lot of tension at the school last week.
She said her son had been chased out of school and stalked between classes by teens from the Ville. Smith, Riley’s mother, said she pulled another son, Vashion Bullock, 17, out of Fenger Wednesday because of safety reasons.
Neither Riley nor Shannon have a criminal history, and both hold jobs, their attorney said. Carson was on probation for a 2008 robbery conviction, Peterson said.
Smith believes that Riley was defending his brother in the fight. Shannon, who has not viewed the tape, said she doesn’t believe her son would have stomped on Albert’s head.
“Silvanus is not a bad kid,” said Shannon, 40. “He was protecting himself. Silvanus is not what they are making him out to be.”
Yeah, but he is, Ms. Shannon. He is.