Attorney General Says Youth's Death A 'Wake-Up Call' The videotaped beating death of Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old honor roll student in Chicago, left an "indelible mark on every American seeing it," Attorney General Eric Holder said. He met with Chicago city and school officials Wednesday to discuss the problem of youth violence.
NPR logo Attorney General Says Youth's Death A 'Wake-Up Call'

Law

Attorney General Says Youth's Death A 'Wake-Up Call'

The caught-on-video beating death of a Chicago teen was a "stark wake-up call" that left an "indelible mark on every American seeing it," Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.

Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to Chicago to meet the city's mayor and school officials to discuss the problem of youth violence — an issue dramatically underscored by the beating death of the 16-year-old last month.

Cell phone video of the violent death of Derrion Albert, an honor roll student, was widely broadcast last week. Albert was attacked on Sept. 24 by a mob of teens who kicked him and hit him with splintered planks as bystanders looked on.

At a news conference in Chicago with Mayor Richard Daley, Holder said there "are no quick fixes. This will not happen overnight."

Every citizen has to be a part of the solution," he said.

Daley said the Wednesday morning meeting with Holder and Duncan was productive, adding that the three would announce some new strategies for combating violence. He said he wants to get the message out that "anti-social behavior" won't be tolerated.

But Duncan, himself a former head of the Chicago Public Schools, emphasized that it was not just a Chicago problem and that money alone would not solve the problem of youth violence.

"It is about values," he said. "It's difficult to build a positive future if you do not think you'll live beyond the age of 18.

"Every adult shares in this endeavor," he added.

Duncan said it was ridiculous to suggest that the turnaround strategy he implemented while CEO of Chicago's schools contributed to the current violence among students. Some Chicagoans blame the violence on a school reform plan that closed dozens of schools and reassigned thousands of students to campuses outside their neighborhoods — often across gang boundaries.

Duncan said officials met with dozens of students from Albert's high school. Some of those children face obstacles that most people could never comprehend, he said.

Chicago has a long history of youth violence. In 1992, 7-year-old Dantrell Davis was shot and killed on his way to school as he left the Cabrini-Green housing project where he lived. After Davis' death, The Chicago Tribune published every child murder for the next year — a total of 62 — on its front page.

From NPR and wire service reports