Community holds anti-violence vigil

October 13, 2009 9:17:20 AM PDT
The death of Derrion Albert captured national attention after the video of his beating appeared on TV. On Monday, community activists set up the 'peacemakers wall' outside the community center where Derrion Albert was beaten to death more than two weeks ago.

It was just one of several tributes in Chicago to the Fenger High School student.

The prayer vigil is the latest community reaction to the beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert.

On Monday morning, anti-violence activists made the Fenger High School honor roll student the first inductee of an informally dedicated 'peacemakers wall of respect' by committing an outline of his shoes to the wall as a permanent reminder of the violence that claimed his life.

"They are reminding living souls to step away from the violence. Violence is a virus. Don't catch it," said EvAngel Mamadeelove, community activist.

The remembrance comes as Chicago police officials report homicides fell 11 percent from the same period last year.

According to CPD numbers, through Sept. 30 of this year, there were 348 slayings down from 393. And through Sept. 15 of this year, killings of youth between the ages of 6 and 18 declined by 14.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

"We're not feeling it out here on the South Side of Chicago. We see a continual increase in dead bodies, young men like Derrion Albert," said Rev. Isaac Hayes, Heat on the Streets Ministry.

Despite the statistical improvement, it was amateur video of the fatal beating of Derrion Albert, first aired by WFLD TV, that captured brawling teens armed with wooden planks and rocks that got national attention.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder responded by traveling to Chicago last week to meet with students and city officials about youth violence, while Mayor Richard Daley rolled out several new anti-violence initiatives including one creating jobs and after-school programs.

Still, some say the only way to truly end the violence is if everyone works together -- the reason for the wall.

Organizers of the event say they're not too disappointed that teens didn't show up. They say they're hopeful teens will get the message. And police still have patrols around Fenger High School. Activists say it's first step of many toward bringing peace to the streets.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, along with other community activists, plan to provide safe passage to students walking or riding a bus to and from Altgeld Gardens to Fenger high school Tuesday.


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