October 1st, 2009
06:58 PM ET
13 years ago

In wake of violence, Obama sends Cabinet members to Chicago

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/09/29/chicago.teen.beating/art.derrion.wls.jpg caption="Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death outside a Chicago high school."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama is sending a pair of top Cabinet officials next week to visit the Chicago, Illinois, school where an honors student was beaten to death, the beating videotaped and broadcast around the world.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder will make the trip October 7, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

"It's a great concern to the president, as somebody who lives in Chicago and should be a concern for every American," Gibbs said.

Obama spoke with his advisers about the killing on Wednesday and directed Duncan and Holder to meet with officials from the school, the students and the community to "talk about the issue of school violence," Gibbs said.

The beating death of 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert occurred outside Chicago's Christian Fenger Academy High School and has raised attention to the alarming figure of 30 students killed last year in Obama's home city.

Cook County prosecutors have charged four suspects with first-degree murder in Albert's killing.

Gibbs, who called the video of the beating "chilling," said he did not know whether Obama had watched it himself but said the president was "concerned about the incident."

Obama was leaving Thursday for Copenhagen, Denmark, to lobby the International Olympic Committee to choose Chicago as host of the 2016 Olympic

The White House seeks to balance expressing sensitivity and concern about the murder with projecting a positive image of Chicago as a safe city.

"This isn't a Chicago problem. Violence, youth violence is a problem throughout our country," Gibbs said.

Nevertheless, Obama will be prepared to address the issue if asked about it by members of the IOC.

"The president has full confidence in the safety of the city and will be prepared to talk about that if that comes up as a question," Gibbs said.

Filed under: Eric Holder • Obama administration • Olympics
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Eloy

    I think that it is time to really make new laws towards "under age" responsabilities, because nobody is afraid anymore in fact they laugh about our laws, thats why they do what they do, the new law should be if you fight in school or anyware else and you are find guilty of a crime you should go to jail for 5 years no (BS) then we see if it works or not i dont want to sound like a dictatorship but sometimes is the only way with the teens from this era.

    October 1, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. d fowlkes

    This is a serious problem in schools. Violence is a growing problem that teachers are not able to deal with.

    October 1, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Rose

    Give me a break, this stuff goes on all over the country, why this kid and why Chicago? Nothing like playing favorites. He will take care of his own back yard. If that was a white kid in New Jersey there would be no comment. What a disappointment Obama is.

    October 1, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. rachel

    What excatly are elected officials in Chicago doing????

    October 1, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Jenn, Philadelphia

    What other cities is the President sending cabinet members? There is school violence in a lot of cities. Why only Chicago?

    October 1, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. cgillette369

    duncan was the head of chicago schools and failed but obama promoted him.

    what can he do now? resign and return to australia.

    October 1, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  7. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their foolishness.

    I hope the ones he sent are African American ar Spanish. The others would have to pray for their lives.

    October 1, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. guy

    Too many years of ignoring the problem that lies in the major cities... it's too late , the damage is done and can never be repaired. No one cares outside of a few people closely associated with whatever victim it happens to be. This time it's a young man who had something going that others were jealous of... what will it be next time? This country is really broken.

    October 1, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  9. Terik Ororke

    Americans must take back their cities and communities. However it seems that Americans are not really interested in curbing the gang violence that exists, and especially the problem of drug users and pushers. It seems that we Americans would rather legalize drug use than really fight it....why is that in a country where most people are physically too fat, and where even shred of paper money has a trace of cocaine on it? Our downfall is inevitable....too bad but we keep making the wrong choices.

    October 1, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  10. Brenda Goodman

    This horrible murder sickens me. What have the mobs devolved to? I am so sorry for this family. What this young wonderful kid felt while he was being beaten is too awful to think about. May my God bless this family and keep this young man with him.

    October 1, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  11. Albo58

    And exactly what will Duncan and Holder accomplish? Will they sit down and have a beer with gang members and bill it as a 'teachable" moment? What Chicago needs is enforced curfews for minors and serious detentons for law-breakers. Bad behavior should not be coddled, but instead, disciplined and punished. Society needs to be consistant.

    October 1, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. File under "Sarcasm"

    Yep, two cabinet members will stop gang violence and save Chicago. (Their first act will probably be to check if the boy had health insurance because they can always use another heart rending story of how the health system failed someone.)

    If they can't fix things, President Obama will show up right after he wins the Olympics for Chicago in 2016 and make a great speech that will solve everything.

    October 1, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. RR

    As long as these kids look up to thug gangsta-rappers, the violence will continue.

    As long as children become parents, the violence will continue.

    As long as drugs are illegal and drug trafficking gangs rule the streets, the violence will continue.

    Duncan and Holder are wasting their breath if they think their words carry more weight to urban youth than the foul mouthed trash talking of rappers and hip hop artists.

    October 1, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. Nevada dude

    this is shameful reporting CNN. its full of fluff and not very informative. CNN is pathetic

    October 1, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. Denna

    I think these street thugs should be treated just the same as any terrorist. They are, after all terrorizing their own neighborhoods. The local police, wherever this happens, whichever city, should team up with the National Guard to drive these people out so that the decent people can live their lives. This young man was working to have a bright, useful life and it was stolen from him. This cannot be allowed to continue happening anywhere. Today Chicago, tomorrow where else where good hardworking people cannot live their lives?

    It's time that our Guard patrol our streets instead of "keeping the world safe".

    October 1, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. jmz

    thats sooo funny...not haha funny but sad funny....Obama is a joke! Obama has time to waste having a beer with his friend and a cop who insulted him. He has time to slam rush limbaugh and Kanye west(both butt heads). He has time play Billy mays and go lobby for the olympics and his friends fundraisers ( i think the sham-wow is next). but he cant seem to find time to comment on ACORN(gee wonder why) or take time to see and tak about this kids family who was beaten to death.

    October 1, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. worriedmom

    May God watch over and comfort this young man's family. So sad that people act this way. There is no excuse for harming another individual. God Rest his Soul!

    October 1, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. munchmom

    This will play well with the IOC.....

    October 1, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  19. T'SAH from Virginia

    President Obama – PLEASE call Derrion's Mom - I am still crying over this because our kids are being SLAUGHTERED for NO REASON – just because he would not join a GANG?????

    We should all go to Chicago and MARCH!! Knock on EVERY parent's door whose kid belongs to a gang – SHAKE THE LIVING STEW out of them – both PARENT and CHILD!!! Enough is ENOUGH!!!

    October 1, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  20. dp

    Why are children so angry. Is it that they have not had enough discipline when they were young to know right from wrong.
    This child did not deserve to die at the hands of angry children who have no control over their anger. I don't even know why they attacked him .
    It sound like they were just looking for someone to target and it had to be him.
    I hope these children who did the crime will do the time and i would suggest the death penalty.

    October 1, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. Tracy

    May God bless the families involved. And may the one's commiting this crime be found guilty and punished according to the law.

    October 1, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  22. Nija

    I hope those involved will get the capital punishment.

    October 1, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  23. adam

    This may just be the nail in the coffin for the olympics in Chicago!

    October 2, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |