Yesterday morning, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, spoke at the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. There, she touted Obama’s record on youth violence in Chicago:
As a mom, it just breaks my heart when I hear stories of young people who fall victim to gangs, drugs, and crime – President Obama, the father of two young girls, feels the same way.
The President will never forget the tragic story he heard, in 2009, from our hometown of Chicago. A 16-year-old honors student named Darrion Albert was walking home from school. An innocent bystander, in the wrong place at the wrong time. On his way to the bus stop, he was caught between two groups of boys brawling in the street. One young man, not much older than Darrion, struck him with a railroad tie. Another punched him in the face. As he struggled to his feet, a second group of boys attacked him and continued to beat him even after he had lost consciousness. Darrion did not survive.
I think it was impossible to hear the story of Darrion’s murder without doing some soul-searching. We had to ask ourselves how, in America, we could let young people’s lives end before they had a chance to truly begin. And sadly, as we are all painfully aware, Darrion was not alone. From the beginning of the 2007 school year until the time of Darrion’s death, nearly 70 students were murdered in Chicago, most of them on their way to or from school. An epidemic of children killing children.
When President Obama heard about what had happened, he took action. He sent Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan to Chicago to discuss youth violence with Mayor Daley and leaders in the community – and those discussions ultimately led to the creation of this National Forum.
So, how many students have been murdered in Chicago since Darrion Albert was murdered in September 2009, and since President Obama “took action”? In 2010, there were 68 murder victims in Chicago between the ages of 13 and 18. Nearly 700 kids were hit by gunfire. There was an 11 percent rise in youth murders in 2010. Since 2008, over 530 people under age 21 have been murdered, and 286 of those were under the age of 18.
So all that talk at the National Forum has been helpful. Good thing President Obama cares – although he and his allies have been all over the Trayvon Martin case while completely ignoring a spate of shootings in the Chicago area over the last week.