As Chicago and the rest of the nation still grapples with the senseless death of Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old honor student brutally beaten to death as he headed to his school bus, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have vowed to get the federal government more involved in the fight against youth violence.
These two key players in the Obama administration have pledged more federal dollars to help end what is largely an inner-city crisis, but neither offered specifics or outlined any new strategies on how the government would help quell the increase in the number of violent deaths among teens, The Associated Press reports.
The president sent Duncan and Holder to his hometown of Chicago to meet with officials, parents and students from Christian Fenger Academy High School, where Albert attended. The youth’s beating was captured on a cell phone video. The footage shocked the nation because of the brutality as well as the casualness of onlookers.
"Youth violence is not a Chicago problem, any more than it is a Black problem, a White problem or a Hispanic problem," Holder said. "It is an American problem."
In a Department of Justice study on youth violence released earlier this week, about 60 percent of respondents said they had been exposed to violence in the past year, and nearly half had been assaulted at least once, Holder told AP.
The president is requesting $25 million in next year's budget for community-based crime prevention programs, the attorney general said. Duncan said an emergency grant of about $500,000 would go to Fenger for counselors or other programs.