Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicago Honors Student Beaten To Death

From The Daily Voice:

A Chicago honors student was beaten to death on Thursday as two rival gangs fought outside a community center in that city.

An amateur cell phone video posted on YouTube showed a young man being struck on the head by a young man with a long wooden board, then punched by another young man.

The victim was later identified as Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old high school student who was walking to a bus stop when he got caught up in the street fight.

Cook County prosecutors charged four teenagers with first-degree murder, including Eugene Bailey, 18, Silvonus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16.

"How could kids be so prone to violence that they would do something this horrific," City Alderman Carrie Austin said to CNN's Don Lemon. "What's going through their minds that they would even participate in something like this," she said, describing it as a "mob action."

"It is just absolutely ridiculous that we're not teaching our children any type of conflict resolution," Alderman Austin said. Austin also discussed the parents' responsibility to raise their children, but warned that the victim "had a great mother. It was not her fault. He was a honor student," Austin said.

The incident comes to light at the same time President Obama is trying to sell the city of Chicago to the International Olympic Committee as the site for the 2016 Olympics. Obama's move has already been criticized by some Republicans, who argue that the president should be focused on the economy, health care, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Baltimore Examiner columnist D.K. Jamaal sees it differently. "The question, then, is not whether Obama's Olympic lobbying is a good use of Presidential time, but whether Chicago, USA is a good use of the Olympics in the first place -- especially in light of how harshly many Americans judged the IOC for awarding the Olympics to China despite its pitiful human rights record."

What's going on in schools today? I mean everyone has witnessed fights at school before. But it is so shocking to me that young kids could have so little respect for someone else's life. And for someone who wasn't even involved in the fight. But if we want to go deeper, we all have a preoccupation with violence or fights. How many of us have either egged on or secretly hoped a vicious argument would turn into a fight? How many of us have watched someone get beat up and shout things like "Damn he got stuck," or "Babee, she got skull dragged?" Two kids fighting a school or people outside a nightclub suddenly become Floyd Mayweather or Evander Holyfield, just random forms of entertainment.

Now I'm not naive enough to believe that every situation can be talked out. Sometimes fighting is necessary, such as in cases of self-defense. But violence over petty bullshit (i.e. shoes, clothing, gang affilitation-why are you fighting over turf? you don't even own it! he say/she say) is senseless and never solves anything. It just leads those victimized to go out and seek revenge, contributing to more violence. Nothing is proven in random acts of violent aggression.

I seriously think anger management/conflict classes should be talk in schools. Obviously parents should teach their kids to respect others and take responsibility for their own actions. But sometimes parents can contribute to the mentality of 'fight first, think later,' so it's not that simple either. I also don't think that music or movies that have violent content automatically promote violence. Context needs to be taken into account before making that judgement.

But I do believe that each of us has to look in the mirror and take responsibility for ourselves. A video game or movie or song can't make you do anything. It can suggest, but not physically make you do anything. We have to value our lives and teach kids to value theirs and others' lives as well, and teach them how to look critically at the movies they watch and games they play, to learn how to separate fantasy from reality. Fighting or any form of violence should be a last resort, not the only option.

Here is footage of the fight below. Warning: It is graphic.

1 comment:

ToddyEnglish said...

I didn't watch it. I can't believe someone actually stood there and taped it!

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