Violence at school and beyond: Why did Derrion Albert have to die?

Warning: This topic has drawn a few troubling responses. In the past, I have deleted comments only to be told by many of you that you would rather see the ugly stuff and address it.  You can object to comments by reporting them. Feel free, Maureen

I don’t know the answer to the teen violence that took the life of a Chicago honor student last week as he was leaving school and walking to his school bus. (Here is another AJC story on the killing.)

Before anybody here at Get Schooled  launches into the predictable comments that this is a black problem,  please recall that every mass school shooter in recent times here in the U.S.  has been a white assailant, many of whom were from two-parent families. (I was thinking of k-12 shootings, but a poster points out that the VA Tech shooter was not white. He was Asian American.)

And this is not only a  school problem, although it is magnified when it happens at or near a school. Schools can’t solve this alone with more school resource officers.

CNN has  comments by Derrion Albert’s minister and the Chicago school CEO on the horrific and unprovoked attack that was caught on a cell phone camera and replayed nationwide.

Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools CEO:  “How do we make sure this event doesn’t become another event? Another vigil on another day.”

The Rev. Michael Pfleger : “What kind of person, what kind of individual, has such rage and such anger and such madness. We’ve got to get to the hearts of our children, because nothing, nothing, excuses or justifies the actions of an individual who would beat another individual. Nothing justifies that in this society.  It’s time for guns, and it’s time for two-by-fours to stop being the way we treat each other.”

Pfleger said it was time to make a change, so children aren’t afraid to go to or from school. He said teen violence was not just a crisis for Chicago where there has been a rash of teen deaths, but was happening all over, from “Oakland to Newark.”

As he spoke, the minister was flanked by people holding signs with photos of a young child and the words “Don’t shoot, I want to grow up,” according to CNN

Can this youth violence be stemmed or must we accept that it’s the wild west out there today?

67 comments Add your comment


September 29th, 2009
11:27 am

This sure puts the Jena Six beating in a different light.

V for Vendetta

September 29th, 2009
11:34 am

Maybe it’s time to reexamine the “right” to a free public education. Eliminate compulsory attendance laws. Allow schools to permanently remove students with continual behavior problems who have no interest in learning. Would it have saved Derrion? Maybe not. Would it have prevented Columbine? Maybe not. But in the matter of protecting students and teachers, it’s a step in the right direction.

Education is a means to an end. Those who don’t see it that way should not negatively affect others’ opportunities.

By the way

September 29th, 2009
12:26 pm

btw how many young people have been killed in Chicago in the past year? btw what are the demographics of the students killed? btw why are we ignoring the 2000 pound elephant in the living room?


September 29th, 2009
12:28 pm

I watched the film and with all the people watching there was enough of them to take over also this was at the school where were the teachers ?at the school bus stop where was the bus driver? there are a lot of unanswered questions. This is not acceptable.


September 29th, 2009
1:01 pm

These things happen when God left the schools.

what's right for kids?

September 29th, 2009
1:11 pm

Frank, how were the school officials supposed to know what was going to happen? Kids don’t talk, and if they did, they would get the same done to them that this young man got.
Jean, as a teacher, I am not about to interrupt a person who is larger than I and is brandishing a weapon. That riot was a matter for the police~the ones with guns and licenses to kill. Bus drivers and teachers should not be expected to interrupt that type of violence.


September 29th, 2009
1:14 pm

I graduated from Fenger High School in 1974. I am very sad to say that it has not changed……..all that is happening now was happening then. We have not improved at all….


September 29th, 2009
1:20 pm

To answer the headline, Why did Derrion Albert have to die, he had to die because a huge number of blacks have no self-control. I believe that genes responsible for compassion, empathy, and the ability to use foresight are much more likely to be inactive in blacks than in most other racial groups. Extreme levels of black violence and crime, no matter their upbringing or local society, indicate that the violence is something they cannot help. It is who they are. Just as a wasp will sting at the slightest provocation, blacks will resort to violence. However, blacks also resort to violence for fun, and that is the difference. In summation, Derrion Albert had to die because he was black, and was amongst a group of blacks, and death can come in a moment in a crowd of humans who lack some of the basic traits of civilized humans. Until blacks can overcome their genetic defects through education and understanding, they will remain the savages of the human race.

Rectal bleeding

September 29th, 2009
1:23 pm

God left the schools? If God is the almighty of all, would he/she prevented this no matter where god is?

No, good parenting would have prevented this.

jim d

September 29th, 2009
1:27 pm


He hasn’t left–open your heart and you will see.


September 29th, 2009
1:28 pm

Wow. Yes, when there have been mass school shootings, they have been white most of the time (Not VA Tech). However, how often does that happen? Once every ten years or so? How many times per year do one of these thugs kill? The terrible parenting by the parents of thugs and the thugs not caring about the law are the problems. Pretty funny how you never hear about things like this in East Cobb, Forsyth, etc.


September 29th, 2009
1:30 pm

Tell me this, why is it that the racist Jesse Jacksnon and racist Al Sharpton never protest when it is black on black? What do you think would happen if it were four white guys who beat the black guy to death? There would be protests daily.


September 29th, 2009
1:31 pm

Jean… I am a Chicagoan. When they spoke of a bus stop, it meant CTA, or public transportation. The only school buses running in the city of Cihcago are for private schools. Inner city kids are on their own as far as getting to school. I had to pay every day to ride the bus to and from school. But, that was the 70’s, and schools were much safer. I love my city, but I would’ve never raised my children there. We would like to go back, but the area we desire is $$$$$$$$$$$.


September 29th, 2009
1:34 pm

Say what you will about white people but after watching that video, I have never seen a group of white people do something like that. However I have seen black people do things like that many times. Out of control.


September 29th, 2009
1:40 pm

I graduated high school in south georgia in the early 1990’s.

I saw a basket ball star (later to play in the NBA shortly) punch the vice Principal in the face.

I saw, in middle school, a girl stab a female coach repeatedly in the leg with one of those pencil compasses during a fight.

I saw another girl in middle school hit a fellow female student in the face with a brick.

I saw a guy literally pick another student upside down, place his head between his legs and pile drive him to the pavement to a sickening sound.

I also witnessed countless other fist fights that led to broken bones, black eyes, and bloody noses.

Lets not pretend this is new.


September 29th, 2009
1:43 pm

John… Al Sharpton does protest black-on-black crime. So does Jesse Jackson. The media just doesn’t show up.

And as far as “Demographics” are concerned, I’ve heard of youths killing other youths in all kinds of demographics. “Demographics” isn’t the issue, here. This child was killed by other children because those children simply did an evil thing. And they need to own up to it and accept the consequences for their actions.

Oh, and another thing… mass shooters in majority white neighborhoods are rare. And they are much more rare in predominately black or latin schools. But so are killings like this. This is extremely rare in any demographic.

It makes me really sad reading these posts. An honor student was killed on the streets and the predominant issue is what demographic he belonged to.

Black evloved and proud

September 29th, 2009
1:49 pm

Can They Evlolve

Didn’t Downey state that ignorant people need not make ignorant statements (in so many words). You are ignorant…this is a child we are talking about. Black, White, Hispanic or any other background. This child died in a senseless act of violence that could have happened to any child. Yes this was a black area it could have easily been white. It starts at home (but not yours because racism is taught there and apparently you are still in the past) We need to step in as parents, neighbors, family members or just Joe walking down the street. You, making that statement, are one of the ones born with a genetic defect. While everyone else has evolved as you put it…look at where you still are. I pray that God blesses you in spite of yourself.

My heart goes out to that childs family. I watched the tape and cried. I couldn’t imagine living through it.


September 29th, 2009
1:52 pm

Sad- I have. Not only that, but I’ve heard of black unarmed youth shot and killed in cold blood by white police officers. And I’ve heard of accounts of white youth beating up and killing black youth because they are black.

I’ve heard of accounts of rich, white kids killing other rich white kids over drug money. Or white youths beating and killing white youths because they were gay.

And I can say the same for Latinoes. Or Asians.

In other words, violence isn’t in accordance to demographics. There’s violence in every demographic. But some people like to discount the tragedy by thinking that it is a derivative of a certain demographic. And that’s wrong.

With that same rationale, I guess then, that a certain demographic is more prong to suicide and drunk driving among their youth? Or killing their parents?

See how incredibly stupid that sounds???? So stop with the racist comments and let’s have a discussion that is worthy of actual typing.

Upset Christian

September 29th, 2009
1:54 pm

You’re a racist pig! The fact that you could even think this is appalling to me. It is because of people like you that this world is as bad as it is. Instead of sitting back to judge, you should try to help. Whether Black, White, Asian or whatever, we’re talking about our fellow men. We are ALL the same! There are bad people of all races and nationalities. But I find that total ignorance, like yours, is far worse than someone who lacks self control. YOU and YOUR ATTITUDE are a much bigger problem! I guess that you were in support of the White man who beat a Black woman for trying to look out for her daughter, hunh? But just as I am entitled to my opinion, you are entitled to yours. Know this, though, you’re going to have to answer for your actions and attitudes someday. I’ll just pray for you that you have a change of heart before judgment day!


September 29th, 2009
1:54 pm

As a black man, i will have to say that this is one of my least proud moments in being a black man. Honestly, anyone who isn’t black have every right to have a negative view of blacks after seeing this video. I am disgusted. I am sick and tired of my people acting like a bunch of uncivilized gorillas. Yes i said it. Stupid XXX with dreads , hip hop slang ,overpriced rims, broken language, BET promoting ignorance etc. Time for us black people to start focusing on being clean cut and intelligent, instead of being clowns and wearing costumes, and being materialistic and uncivilized.

Black evloved and proud

September 29th, 2009
2:00 pm


Your statements reflect what you are sick of. “Stupid N” I guess that was an intelligent comment.

I am sick of the violence as well but this could have happened in any race.

what's right for kids?

September 29th, 2009
2:08 pm

Your response was probably the saddest thing that I have read in a long time.

Maureen Downey

September 29th, 2009
2:09 pm

Black evolved and proud, At the request of another reader, I deleted the offending word from Ryan’s post, so people may not understand your comment since the word has been struck.

NY2GA, Inc.

September 29th, 2009
2:13 pm


You must not remember Columbine. Black folks didn’t pull the trigger and murder all of those innocent students.

I think what it boils down to is people having no respect for human life. That is what we are first…HUMAN. We’ve seen quite a few stories of senseless violence over the years. Unfortunately, this is another one to add to the list. May this young man and any other person that has been a victim of violence rest in peace.


September 29th, 2009
2:24 pm

Black and evolved huh ? brutha we as black people got a long way to go. We haven’t evolved yet. Honestly, this video sets us back…Kinda hard to be proud after seeing this video..All things aside, be blessed.

What are you talking about?

September 29th, 2009
2:27 pm

Can They Evolve.

Get real this not about race. I grew up in a mostly white area, and violence was there as well. Self control is taught as child. What has happened is everyone is afraid to correct their kids because of the laws that exisit. God needs to be in the home and the school. And we need to stop allowing kids to run the adults. We need to Parent up!!!!! Watch Supernanny and you will see you guys have some out of control kids as well. Watch your words….it could be your family next. Help not point fingers. God Bless that Mother’s heart.

jim d

September 29th, 2009
2:28 pm

ENOUGH, Damnit!!

Until we stop the petty name calling and fingerpointing and realize we are all ONE RACE—THE HUMAN RACE. NOTHING, and i do mean NOTHING, will improve.

Get a grip people–and just do your part.


September 29th, 2009
2:33 pm

Please don’t make this a racial issue. Violence is American as apple pie. Kids have always fought, and now the fighting is to the death.This is not surprising because kids witness the violent fighting on tv, and in their video games. This is a societal issue. Lets be honest, and stop pointing the fingers at each other. Not to mention, America has always been violent… We use violence to conquer and enslave, its our way. As it has been said before, you reap what you sow. As a history teacher and student, it is understood that this country is built on violence. So now, what do we do?


September 29th, 2009
2:40 pm

This an AMERICAN issue. As a culture, we have desensitized our children to violence. They do not understand the consequences and are acting as if this is a movie or video game. This is EVERYONE’S problem. Parents need to parent, and teach your children the value of life.


September 29th, 2009
2:41 pm

To everyone,

I am a black woman. I am a human being. I am, like you, made in the likeness of that which created ALL things. Whether you choose to believe it or not, we are all connected. We’ve all come from the same “stuff”. Do you think that because you have the vocabulary to express yourself in a more savvy or “intellectual” way, that it separates you from that reality?

Allow these tragedy’s to wake you up to MORE consciousness. Meaning, let it help YOU gain more compassion for the fellow man. Let it inspire YOU to become more aware of your actions, thoughts and views, so as to effectively change these neighborhoods, schools, households, and globe into a more accommodating place for ALL, one person at a time (you).

Just because you’ve gathered more book knowledge to express yourself, and developed more of a mask to cover your primal thinking of separation, doesn’t make you better. It makes YOU also a part of the problem. These thoughts of separation and judgment and aloofness breeds more hate, ignorance and unconsciousness.

Until WE start to do our parts personally, how do you anticipate that we’ll truly effect change? How can you blame the next person, parent, school or whatever, and you’re not your best YOU. Right where we are, with our abundance of book smarts or lack there of, why not choose to LOVE? Why not choose to UNDERSTAND? Why not choose to FORGIVE? Everybody wants to be happy; even if they have no clue how to get there. It’s easier to hate, be angry, be “upset”, be falsely superior, right?

For all we know, these kids could be feeling TOTAL remorse for their actions right now. They could be wishing for another chance to do it over. A lot of times, people do things unconsciously. They could be caught in the moment of a mob mentality, they could be lost and inappropriately releasing their anger and depression, they’re also coming from a dysfunctional world.

Trust, I’m all for taking responsibility for your actions. If you don’t, there can be no growth, no change, no self empowerment. But, this is deeper than surface issues. These things go to the SOUL. There is a disconnect that has happened on a mass scale in humans. If you’d get to the core (soul) of it, these things would change.

Check your own heart, check your own soul, check your own “flaws”… access more attributes worth contributing to a better US, instead of the vicious accusations, judgmental attitudes and primitive, yes primitive, points of view.


September 29th, 2009
2:45 pm

The news and America have to do what we use to do in the past. Put the parent’s picture and name in lights for raising kids who commit horrific crimes. The parents are viewed as victims because there little Johnny shot and killed someone. If little Johnny was raised properly then Little Johnny will not kill. Parents need to be held responsible or at the least held accountable for raising such monsters. Should the parent go to jail for their kids crime “no” but put in the public eye as the one who raised the monster.

what's right for kids?

September 29th, 2009
3:24 pm

Fair enough; but remember that kids who snitch get beaten just as badly as the young man who was killed. It has been my experience that kids don’t and won’t tell. I could be wrong, but the climate of that school is probably always tense; why would last week be any different?
Again, I am thinking that the students who planned and implemented the attack were probably problems to begin with; maybe the school should be sued for not getting rid of the delinquents in the first place; that would have been another suit, though~ denying the children their education.


September 29th, 2009
3:28 pm

Here is map of Metro Chicago public school ‘demographics’ in the area around Fenger:


September 29th, 2009
3:45 pm

None of us know what is right. As a retired teacher, I feel parents have let their children down. Many join gangs to feel loved and to belong. Families, churches, and communities used to do this. Bless the young man’s family and friends.
I just feel there will be a special place in hell for people who behave like the gang members who participated in acts like this. They should be locked up forever so they do not kill again.


September 29th, 2009
3:50 pm

We as pepole have to much angry and hate within ourself. We are angry people and take our angry out on others, rather than trying to get help for our selves and our children, we leave it for others to deal with.We need to help our children understand why they are so angry and get help quickly for them. Many times we see this at a young age, but we act as if it does not matter untill they kill someone and than we say if only I had helped when I saw the problems.

jim d

September 29th, 2009
3:54 pm

Blame teachers—blame parents hell blame anyone but the thugs that committed the crime. God forbid we hold them accountable for their own actions. I’ve seen a lot of good kids –raised in good homes–go bad. these are kids who grow up in violent environments and who may have violent role models, such that their typical mode of response, whether for self-defense or just to get what they want, is violence. This also includes gang killers, or children who are pressured from within a gang to kill. They feel more powerful as a member of the gang, so they will do what it takes to get respect. In fact, within a lot of gangs any restraint on violence is viewed as weakness.

these are just bad kids and bad kids haave happened since early biblical recordings.


September 29th, 2009
4:01 pm

This is something I wonder, why is it that we have all of these blacks that has the power to make a difference, but you never see them holding a concert or a forum to reach out to our black kids and press upon them, what can be done, and what can the rappers and blacks with money do to bring as many wealthy artist together to ask, why are we killing each other, and these things were not accepted when done by other races to blacks, but yet we are doing the same thing to our race that whites and other races have done, destroying our race and the rest of our young men are locked up for committing some terriable crime against another black person. I just don’t understand anyone having this much range to just take someones life like this. Someone should inflick the same pain upon these ones that are doing the crime and spear them no mercy, and than some would say this is inhuman, what about the people that this done too. I feel we should follow the rules as other countries do: an eye for an eye.


September 29th, 2009
4:03 pm

I do not know if it is the media or what but I am reading a lot about CHICAGO this year and none of it has been good. Is it that the city itself breeds CORRUPTION and EVIL. You know the media does it drive by but really does not explain very much.


September 29th, 2009
4:05 pm

I got it! Since Eric Holder the AG does not punish blacks the kids think they can get away with MURDER!

jim d

September 29th, 2009
4:07 pm

Chicago politics were around long before me–and really haven’t changed much.


September 29th, 2009
4:34 pm

This is not a race issue, so why people TRY to make it one is beyond my comprehension. Have all of you who are passing judgment on this situation been watching the news lately. Our society is driven by violence. Violence in movies, violence in video games, violence in songs… The only question I have is Why? Why does this have to happen. People need to reach out to kids, become their mentors, get involved in the community, keep kids off the streets and lead them on the right path. It doesn’t matter to me who is at fault. It is so easy to place blame, isn’t it. I am firm beleiver that violence is escalating for many reasons… some incidents may be reflected in our economy and young black males are disenfranchised in a lot of schools. We as a society need to come up with SOLUTIONS, not place blame. The question is, will we come together to do so? And Maureen, you are absolutely right – school shooters are often white and middle class.

Lets call a spade a spade

September 29th, 2009
4:44 pm

Why is everyone acting surprised, hurt and angry? Listen to your average rap song. These type “tragedies” are only going to increase sad to say.


September 29th, 2009
4:56 pm

The reality is that it is always about race in America. Blacks feel a sense of guilt and shame when other Blacks do something as reprehensible as this. And many people of other races look at the actions of a few as a reflection of the whole. That’s the reality and it is never going to change.

However…to Ryan…not even that video gives anyone the right to look at the entire race of Blacks as savages or to suggest that we have some sort of genetic defect. Anybody with half a brain would know that there are zero genetic differences between the different races. They are still ignorant and don’t buy into the self-loathing that many would have you do so easily.

I think someone hit the nail on the head when they said that our society has desensitized kids to violence…they think swinging a huge wooden stick and kicking someone in the head repeatedly is like being in a video game. It’s sickening. Clearly the parents are not doing what they need to be doing as all.

But the bottom line is that Derrior Albert did NOT HAVE TO die! We need to repeat that over and over again rather than acting like his death was some sort of foregone conclusion to him being Black and in a bad neighborhood.

DeKalb Conservative

September 29th, 2009
5:03 pm

While I’d like to take race out of the equation, it’s tough to here. I want to view this as several thugs gaining up on someone with intelligence — something that doesn’t involve race.

It is tough though, only because I know good grades and academic achievement is frowned up in the black culture as “acting white.” While I’d like to call this black on black crime, knowing that a person who “acts white” isn’t necessarily seen as black to fellow people in the community alarms me.

That said, let’s go back to just the crime at hand. Knowing Chicago has made national news from some controversial abortions, I don’t supposed 64th trimester abortions are legal??


September 29th, 2009
5:40 pm

How incredibly ignorant to even suggest that blacks have a genetic defect! A little research would clear that one up for you. Surely you cannot believe that, even in your wildest dreams! My mother told me that nonsense as a child and I knew even then that God did not create an evil race- got slapped for defying her, but it was worth it! There are blacks and whites and Asians and on and on…they are all human beings, created by God in His image for Him to love. It is as simple as the difference between roses and daisies or bluebirds and robins… just variety. How can your heart be so full of hate and malice? These racist beliefs and remarks promote savagery and further hate and an environment for children to continue the anger and self-defeat of their elders. We will self-destruct if we do not start raising kids with love, attention and mature guidance. As a child I dreamed of a society for my children, in which skin color is no more noticeable than the clothes a person wears… a mere descriptive characteristic. It didn’t happen. But I have worked hard to instill tolerance and understanding and appreciation of all God’s children…a start. Derrior Albert- a beautiful life snuffed out by kids…We’d better get really serious, really fast, about changing the way we view and raise our kids!


September 29th, 2009
5:46 pm

I noticed the fight took place outside the ironically named “Agape Center”. Interesting word, agape. We all need to practice a little more agape. It’s a decision.

“Contrary to popular understanding, the significance of agape is not that it is an unconditional love, but that it is primarily a love of the will rather than the emotions. The New Testament never speaks of GOD loving unbelieving human beings with emotional love or a love which expects something in return. But He loves with His will – with agapao (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). The reason for this is that GOD can find nothing enjoyable about a sinner on whom His wrath still abides. So He loves by His will; it is His nature to love. “


September 29th, 2009
5:47 pm

to Dekalb Conservative –
what the h*ll are you talking about?! go somewhere and get a life!

The Truth

September 29th, 2009
6:01 pm

Our humanity, sense of decency, and respect for one another were lost a long time ago. This is a school violence issue and gives us a clear illustration of the violence we have taught and continue to teach our nation’s children. As a Black male, I’m saddened by the death of this promising, young man. I’m also frustrated that, once again, Black people have given the racists ample opportunity to disparage, demean, and to dehumanize Black people. The racists will use this as an excuse to air opinions they already held, and as they already lack any sense of morality or intelligence; they will not hesitate to use this tragic death to their benefit.

V for Vendetta

September 29th, 2009
6:05 pm


In my opinion, saying that we’re all created in God’s image blah, blah, blah is just as ignorant as asserting that black’s are genetically inferior.


September 29th, 2009
6:26 pm

This is one of the most disgusting acts of violence I have ever seen. Before I continue there is one thing I have to get off my chest …

THIS IS NOT THE SCHOOL’S FAULT!!!! Why is this on the education blog?