Mourners say goodbye to Derrion Albert

Jackson, Farrakhan at beaten teen's funeral
October 3, 2009 9:17:35 PM PDT
A wake and funeral were held Saturday for 16-year-old Derrion Albert, the Fenger high school honor roll student who was beaten to death last Thursday by a group of teens.The story of Albert's death has attracted nationwide attention to the problem of youth violence in Chicago. Services to say goodbye to him Saturday attracted a large crowd.

Mourners filed quietly into the funeral of Derrion Albert to honor his life and call for the violence that claimed him abruptly to stop.

"It just reminds me of all the people I know that have died, all the young people. It's not purposeful," said Emerald Dukes.

It was standing room only at Saturday morning's service inside the Greater Mount Hebron church, which not only drew civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan, but others who called for an end to youth violence.

Pamela Bosley also lost her son to gun violence last year.

"I have not come to a child's funeral since my baby, and this was the hardest thing to see another baby laying in a casket," Bosley told ABC7 Chicago.

Albert was killed as he walked to a bus stop after school by a group of teens during a street fight. Amateur video that first aired on WFLD captured the brawl, which shows Albert being kicked and hit with splintered railroad ties. Four teens have been charged in his death.

"This was a good boy. I'm not talking about a thug or gangbanger, no matter what the papers say. A lot of times, society will push out there that because you're a young, black man, you were being bad, you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But how is it wrong when you were walking home from school?" said Venus Adams, Derrion Albert's cousin.

Because of the incident, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Chicago Public Schools head and current U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan plan to meet with school officials in the coming week.

After returning Saturday evening to O'Hare airport from his trip to Copenhagen, Chicago's Mayor Daley made his first on-camera remarks about Derrion Albert's murder.

"I'll be meeting with representatives of the community, high schools, as well as the police department, the family and others, to really get down to the bottom to the code of silence. The code of silence is really unacceptable in this day and age when we have young children being killed," Daley said.

Hovever, some remain critical.

"Get in here and do something. I don'twant to hear another thing about the Olympics. I don't care about the Olympics anymore. We lost that anyway. Get in here and make this city safe," said Annette Holt, whose teenage son, Blair Holt, was also killed.

Other public figures and Chicago police Supt. Jody Weis were also among the mourners inside the church where video screens scrolled through pictures of Derrion as a baby and with his family and photos of his academic awards.

Some mourners paid tribute to the teen by wearing t-shirts with his picture that read "We will always remember you."

Others said they wondered when the violence would end.

"With faith in God, things can get better, as long as we do what is right," said Pastor St. John Chisum.

Saturday's funeral service also included a poem Derrion Albert's mother, Anjanette Albert, wrote to her son entitled, "May I go now?" In it, she wrote, "I know you're sad and afraid because I see your tears...I'll not be far. I promise that."


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