Mourners bid farewell to slain student

April 14, 2008 4:18:35 PM PDT
Mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of Albert Vaughn, the Chicago public school student beaten to death earlier in April.The teenager was attacked with a baseball bat following a party in the Englewood neighborhood.

Vaughn was an 18-year-old senior at Julian High School. His visitation was Monday.

Nathaniel Tucker, 22, of Chicago has been charged with first degree murder in Vaughn's death.

Vaughn is one of more than 20 public school students who have died this year. His death, and other recent acts of violence toward Chicago's youth, have helped to ramp up the effort to stop future crimes against children. Another initiative came Sunday from the pulpit.

The service drew hundreds of people. Vaughn had many relatives and friends that were just as close to him and his family. On Monday, they paid their final respects.

"Sooner or later, this has to stop, Father God, all this unnecessary killing, Father God. We come, Father God, asking that your will be done today, Father God," said the minister.

Vaughn had 21 siblings. Some of them recalled memories of their brother.

"He was more than a friend. He was more than a brother to me. He was my protector, too," said sister Amanda Vaughn.

One of his sisters also sang in memory of her brother, who they now call their guardian angel.

The support for the family seems so similar to other Chicago families who have lost a child to violence. The comments for Vaughn included many pleas for peace.

"So we all think about you, hope that you got this right here, right now, and it don't have to be this moment that we have to come together like this," said one mourner.

"I will say one more thing. We tell you get an education, do something positive with your life. Stop the killing. We have got to stop this. The only people that can stop it is you," said Principal Alfonso Carrington, Bond Elementary School, where some of Albert Vaughn's siblings go to school.

There were other educators at the service. Increasingly, it seems community leaders are looking toward young people for the solution. In fact, at the church where the service was held, South Side Tabernacle Worship Center, they will have a rally and a march next weekend to try to continue to try to do what they can to reverse this deadly trend.

More than a week has passed since Albert Vaughn became the 23rd CPS student to die violently during the current school year. As his family gathered for the visitation Sunday, close to 100 members of the Car Club Alliance walked from Vaughn's home to the spot where he was killed. They prayed with relatives and offered a cash donation to help cover the funeral expenses.

"We all have families. We all have kids in the school system. We know how rough it is. We're here to help," said the Car Club Alliance's Jerome Pledger.

That organization's gathering was just one of several 'stop the violence' events that took place around Chicago Sunday. At Sweet Holy Spirit church, Bishop Trotter symbolically gathered all the CPS students in the sanctuary around the pulpit and comforted an emotional Brandon Willingham, as he recounted losing two schoolmates so far this school year.

"We've got to get the guns off the streets. We have to stop the violence. We got to start now," said Brandon Willingham, who attends Calumet City High School.

Bishop Trotter also lashed out at lawmakers in Springfield who oppose gun control legislation and hinted that if they don't vote in favor of limiting access to guns, they may no longer be welcome in his church.

"We've got to pull their records, and the ones who vote against the things that hurt us, particularly the gun legislation, we cannot allow them in our pulpits to get the votes of our people," he said.

At the Thompson Center, hip hop legend KRS One talked about his efforts involving young people.

" We'd like to take 20 kids from every city on tour. This is a no brainer for me," KRS said. "The message is: you have an alternative. You don't think you're trapped in a situation that you have to become a gang member, or you'll be beat up."

It has been the position of those who oppose gun control and support gun ownership that people, not guns, kill people.


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