WASHINGTON--In the wake of a rash of youth murders in Chicago, including the recent beating death of a Fenger High School student, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder--in Chicago with Mayor Daley--pledged more federal resources to combat youth violence.
"Let us remember, much of the violence against Chicago's young
people involves gang violence, unfortunately. We need the help of the
federal government to help break up the gangs in our city, which does
not end at a city limit, and the terror it may bring to communities,
not only a city, but throughout the country," Daley said at a City Hall press conference with Holder and Duncan.
"It is an American problem," said Holder about youth violence in America.
Duncan, a former Chicago public schools chief and Holder met with Fenger students, after being dispatched to the city by President Obama after the murder of Derrion Albert, 16, in Roseland. The beating was captured on a cell phone and the video evidence elevated yet another tragic Chicago youth murder to a national story.
Said Duncan, "Chicago won't be defined by this incident, but rather by our response to it. So I came here today to join with all of you, and with communities across America, for a national conversation on values. It's a conversation that should happen in every city, in every suburb, in every town in America where violence and intolerance
and discrimination exist.
"Chicago is not unique. Four students have been shot in Tulsa,
Oklahoma already this year. Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami, New
Orleans, and many rural communities have also lost schoolchildren to
violence in recent weeks. And the cost goes far beyond the immediate
victims and their families. When children are fearful, they can't
learn. And if they can't learn, then we are all at risk, because our
future depends on the quality of education we give our children.
"This morning, Attorney General Eric Holder and I started the
conversation with Mayor Daley and with faith and community leaders.
We talked with elected officials and school officials. We also met
with Fenger students and parents and the principal. And the students
-- it was amazing -- were united in the request for one thing. They
want mentors. They want more adults in their lives who care about
them. They're extraordinary children at Fenger, and they want us to
meet them more than halfway.
"We plan to go to other cities, and to meet and talk with people
and find ways to protect our children. I am committed to this fight.
I am committed to this cause. I promise to work as long as necessary
to rid our country of this plague," Duncan said.
The Education Department is sending a $500,000 grant to help Fenger and the feeder upper grade and elementary schools safer.
Mayor Daley asked the Department of Justice for more resources to fight youth violence and for more sharing of resources and to provide more funding for police and after school and Saturday programs.
"The needless and brutal violence that continues to take our
children from us is an outrage. Even one child lost to violence is
one too many in our city. I am very thankful that it is also the
outrage of administration leaders in Washington, D.C.," Daley said.
"Every Chicagoan has the responsibility to help prevent and end
the violence. So does every level of government -- local, state and
federal. To help deepen our partnership with Washington, I met this
morning with Attorney General Holder and Secretary Arne Duncan and
community leaders and faith-based leaders. It was a very, very
"Among the things we talked about, how best to focus our resources
on the young people and the families who need help the most without
sacrificing other priorities; the importance of offering more Saturday
and after-school programs at local schools, where our young people can
learn and take part in other positive activities; how to get more
adults involved with our young people as mentors; and how to more
effectively tell the success stories, and I see the success stories
involving many young people and families who can serve as role models
for their peers in every community of our city.