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Derrion Albert, Fenger High and Neighborhood Melee Part 2: Establishing Blame



“Where were the cops?” asks Letzbeforreal in his mini-video.  His question is not new. He, like everyone else, is looking to hold some bigger entity accountable for the murder of Derrion Albert.  He wants to lay blame where it does “the most good.”  Others assign blame to the administration of Fenger High School.   Despite this, Letzbeforreal’s female guest and those who agree with him suggest that neither the Police Department nor the City Administration care about murders involving black youth.  Ultimately, I think we all want to be able to hold someone, who has the ability to alter situations, accountable. I think, however, that to blame the school or CPD falls short of examining the root causes of youth violence in America, particularly in the case of Derrion Albert. 

Fenger High School

Fenger High School

I am hesitant to place the blame at the foot of Fenger High School for three main reasons: 1)Fenger High has been “turnaround[ed]” which is the most radical change a school can undergo; 2) the incident did not occur on school property; 3) and finally, the only things that did not undergo change are the neighborhood, the students and their parents, which is where the focus should be placed in my opinion.

On February 10 2009, Chicago Public School held a “turnaround” hearing. They voted to “turnaround,” or in other words, fire all the current staff, hire new staff, and provide additional resources to the school.

According to Fox news,  CNN and Substance News there are some deep seated issues within the community and among the students. This rivalry between two neighborhoods’ youths has resulted in murder. This should draw public attention to the soft bigotry of low expectations we place on black youth to be culpable for their (in)actions.

In the video, the camera crew chose to do nothing. The girls screaming in the background chose to do nothing until the very end.  The boys participating in the melee chose to do nothing but be violent. The people in their cars chose to do nothing. I think this is where the breakdown in accountability happened.   The camera crew just filmed as if they were watching a M.Vick sponsored dog fight. So while folks ask “where were the police,” I am choosing to ask where was the respect for human life.  The respect for human life, much like the demand for the law, came later.

Dead at 17...

Dead at 17...


As if to highlight the role of community and student, there has been another murder at Dyett High School  only 10 miles from Fenger. Instead of  political disc jockeys making cameos,  there is a need for solutions that have been created by the students and the community.