Obama aides, city leaders to discuss violence

October 6, 2009 8:43:08 PM PDT
A top-level meeting is set to take place in Chicago on Wednesday morning on preventing school violence. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and education secretary Arne Ducan will meet with city and school leaders about stopping the violence that's targeted Chicago students.

Outrage over the beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert from Fenger High School prompted the meeting. But school violence in Chicago is an issue former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan is quite familiar with. Mayor Daley is hoping now that Duncan is secretary of education, and he is bringing along the attorney general, that they can come up with some solutions.

Teenagers involved in violence is nothing new in many Chicago neighborhoods. But a videotaped beating that first aired on WFLD TV near Fenger High School has touched a nerve around the country. Derrion Albert was killed in the beating. And many including Mayor Daley are asking why.

"Is anybody shocked at it anymore? Are we losing the feeling that the child is lost? Is it us? Is it is it something that maybe we have to come to grips with as people. This is a child that should have been allowed to live," said Daley.

The mayor called a meeting on Monday with city leaders including police chief Jody Weis, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman and community leaders. He was searching for solutions to calm the violence. Fr. Michael Pfleger was among those at the meeting.

"The worst thing we could do right now is try to band aid this and find a quick fix because it is systemic and deep rooted," said Fr. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church.

Mayor Daley says he's looking for new ideas. He hopes to bring some of them to his meeting in the morning with education secretary arne duncan and attorney general eric holder. The mayor says the feds can help by easing restrictions on information about juveniles so law enforcement can share what they know with schools.

A small group of teachers, parents and students protesting outside City Hall on Tuesday afternoon called for more support.

"We have a lot of children that basically have PSTD, post traumatic stress disorder, because they're living in violent, crazy places. They do not get the social services, they don't get the therapy to help them manage this," said Karen Lewis, CPS teacher.

Some community members have blamed the Derrion Albert murder on a long running territorial dispute that school leaders could have averted by sending kids to the school closest to where they live. Mayor Daley disagrees.

"You cannot allow gang territory to disrupt our city life. If you allow that, you are basically waving the white flag to everybody in the city," said Daley.

Derrion Albert's grandfather and the principal of Fenger High School are among those invited to a private meeting with the mayor and rest of the group on Wednesday. The grandfather, Joseph Walker, tells ABC7 he has no idea what to expect but he believes it is a step in the right direction.


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