Derrion Albert Update: Fifth Chicago Youth Arrested in Beating Death, While Chicago Public Schools Fail to Provide a “Culture of Calm”
I’ve been remiss about following up about this case, mainly because there wasn’t much to talk about regarding any more young adults being charged or whether there had been any breakthroughs. But now a fifth assailant has been identified. Described as a “B student” at Fenger High, Lapoleon Colbert was taken into custody January 20 in connection with the horrific Sept. 24, 2009 beating death of Derrion Albert. Colbert had had no criminal record before the beating, and while he may have been able to escape being charged for any previous activity, this item about Colbert once again confirms how deleterious gang behavior is to make one lose literally lose their minds.
Lapoleon Colbert, 19, was charged today with first-degree murder in connection to the Sept. 24 death in front of a Roseland community center soon after the school day ended, according to Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. Colbert was among the second of two groups of teens who attacked Albert during the melee, prosecutors said.
Colbert, who Chicago police said lives in the 0-99 block of West 113th Street, appeared before Cook County Criminal Court Judge Adam Bougeois for a bond hearing at midday and was ordered held without bail. He is currently enrolled at Fenger, according to Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Colbert’s attorney, Michael Clancy, is seeking to throw out the videotaped confession because he had not waived his constitutional right to an attorney at the time. The young man had been only charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the case. At the time of his arrest, Colbert was living with his family: his mother, aunt and grandfather. No bond was set for Colbert’s release.
According [Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin] DeBoni, the melee near 342 W. 111th St. followed a morning shooting incident involving the two groups of students. When the melee developed after school, Albert became caught in it, although he was not part of either group fighting. He allegedly was attacked by Eric Carson, 16, and a 14-year-old boy, who already are charged with murder in his death. After Albert fell to the ground, he was attacked by a second group of five people, including Silvonus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Colbert, DeBoni said.
Colbert was seen stomping and kicking Albert in the head while he was on the ground being beaten up by the second group of attackers, DeBoni said.
Though there have been many assemblies and conferences with parents, teachers and members of the community since Albert’s death, children and young adults are still being attacked, largely on the way to and from schools, with grudges being nursed or condoned during school hours. Columnist Mary Mitchell maintains that in a recent school fracas involving black and Latino students at predominantly Latino Hubbard High School, school officials did little or nothing to keep blacks from being cornered and beaten last week in the latest in a series of attacks. A 15-year-old varsity football player, Robert Mixon, was shot in the back by an unidentified assailant three weeks ago, while going to a nearby corner store to get a bag of potato chips. The school was on an early dismissal schedule–possibly a form of dead week–because of exams.
“Hubbard High School is in a Mexican neighborhood, and a week before that happened, black kids were being chased by Mexican gang members,” Mixon said.
“Grown-ups were jumping out of cars, and they chased these kids three blocks away from the school.”
A spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools denied that there are gang problems inside the high school.
“According to the school administrators, there have been minimal problems at the school over the last few years. This was an isolated incident,” said Monique Bond.
Currently, five gang-related conflicts were reported in the area near Hubbard involving Latino gangs, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.
Hubbard, at 6200 S. Hamlin, is one of 38 Chicago public schools receiving a share of $30 million in stimulus dollars to combat crime.
Robert and his mother say they think the shooting was motivated by race.
The day before the shooting, Robert said a group of Mexican students flashed gang signs and threatened him while he sat with other African-American football players in the lunchroom.
The school’s principal called Robert’s mother about the incident.
“He told me that he had talked to Robert and told him to ignore the taunts,” the mother said.
“But he didn’t discipline them, and they were not suspended even though they were throwing up gang signs,” she said.
Gangs–whether or not they are Latino, black or white–are extremely territorial, and the fact that some blacks are still matriculating at Hubbard High is considered a provocation against the unity and homogeneousness that these Latinos crave. And because some of the black Hubbard students tended to group together for friendship or even for self-preservation, this is considered gang behavior as well, even though there may not be gang activity among them.
Unfortunately, Mixon and his mother are now stuck. Although he wants to leave Hubbard, the officialdom is not yet allowing him to transfer to Simeon High, considered a better school because some young family members are already there and could “look out for him.” Mitchell closes her column saying that while the school year is ticking away, Mixon’s assailant is still on the loose and Chicago Public Schools officials are still in denial.
Hubbard High, like Fenger and 36 other schools in the Chicago public schools system, are receiving Federal funds to participate in a new anti-violence program in schools, called A Culture of Calm, which began last September in response to the Albert killing.
These schools are part of a Culture of Calm program, which began in September but is now being fully implemented.
“This is a mandatory program students must take part if they attend one of the 38 schools identified for the program,” [Director of Communications Monique] Bond told the Defender. “The program teaches students a combination of things, such as self-respect, anger management, problem solving and discipline.
But these kinds of programs take time, and by high school, it is almost too late to reverse years of inculcation unless some at-risk kids really want to take that step away from the abyss. And the fear, rather than abating, is growing.
“These kids are fighting as if they are at war. What should be a relatively short bus ride home commonly turns into a two-hour trip for many students because of all the violent incidents that take place after school,” said Roslynn Arnold, executive director of Community Angels. “Even local business owners are afraid. Many businesses located near these so-called violent schools lock their doors after school to avoid problems with students.”