Revolution #180, October 25, 2009

On the Tragic Death of Derrion Albert:

The Youth Need a Real Future and the Real Truth – Not the Hell That They Live In and the Crocodile Tears, Lies and Poisonous Bullshit That Is Being Pumped at Them!

By now, many people have seen the video of the September 24 beating death of Derrion Albert in Chicago. The violent scene of a big fight among high school students lasts only a few minutes. You see people running every which way. You see a couple of kids fall to the ground after being hit on the head with big planks of wood. Derrion Albert, a senior honor student, is one of them. He gets kicked and stomped as he lays on the ground. You see him trying to get up. Then the next second, his body goes lifeless. You hear someone screaming, “Get up, get up.” People rush over to try and help. But it’s too late.

Another terrible, tragic death. Another young life, cut down, cut short.

Over a thousand people attended Derrion’s funeral. Friends, families, many others heartsick and outraged.

In the wake of this senseless death, people are agonizing. Why did Derrion Albert have to die? How did things get to such a hellish situation? Kids killing each other over nothing. Playgrounds becoming battlefields. Teenage dreams turned into gunfire nightmares.

Among many there’s a feeling of desperation and despair that comes from knowing it’s your neighbors and fellow students doing this to each other. It seems like an endless spiral with no way out. But let’s be clear on where we have to put the blame for such tragedy.

As a statement issued after the death of Derrion Albert said:

“It is terrible that the youth are driven to kill each other. It is terrible and a crime of this system that they internalize the message they get every day through the worthless schools and degrading conditions and brutalizing cops—the message that this system has no future for them and that they don’t even deserve a future—and then they act it out against each other.”

So this is the first thing we need to get clear on. That it is not the people, but the system that is to blame for the kind of violence that goes on among the youth. And by correctly identifying the real problem, we can get to the real solution to all this madness.

We need a complete change. We need to get rid of this capitalist-imperialist system with its economic and social relations that endlessly set people against each other in a million and one ways. We need to get rid of this system with all its institutions that promote a dog-eat-dog poisonous mentality that perfectly mirrors how this system works. Things really don’t have to be this way! A communist revolution would get rid of this sick system. It would organize and mobilize the people to build a whole new socialist society, a society that would really appreciate and tap into the energy of the youth. A society where the creativity, daring, and critical spirit of the youth would be unleashed—along with the rest of the people—to build a whole new and emancipating society.

This is the truth of what it will take to end the horrible violence among the people. And we need to be working right now to build a movement that can bring about this revolutionary solution.

But every day—and especially in the wake of something like the death of Derrion Albert, the so-called “answers” and “solutions” we get from the spokespeople for the system are precisely the opposite of what is needed.

Using Tragedy to Bring Down More Repression

The powers-that-be have jumped all over this tragedy—using it to blame the people and justify bringing down even more repression on the people. We got Eric Holder, head of the U.S. Justice Department; Arne Duncan, head of the U.S. Department of Education; and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. We got the media. And we got people like Jesse Jackson. All speaking out in the wake of this terrible incident. And what is the message from all these people?

One way or another, they all blame the people and demand that more repressive power be brought down on the youth.

Mayor Daley has called for more police in the schools. And if you want to know what this will mean watch the video of the police in a suburban school outside of Chicago beating down 15-year-old Marshawn Pitts. Go to to see how Pitts—who is a special needs student—was brutally attacked, slammed into a locker, and then wrestled to the floor by several men. And what is the “crime” Marshawn Pitts committed to deserve this? He broke the school dress code by not having his shirt tucked in!

The Chicago police are already repressing the people big time in Black and Latino neighborhoods. Now, in the wake of Derrion Albert’s death, curfew enforcement has been increased and 50 cops have been added to the city’s Mobile Strike Force, bringing the unit’s strength to 150. This special police unit, which focuses on gangs and guns, was part of the city’s “surge” in 2008 that left 12 shot and 6 dead by the police in a three-week period. This is the cold, murderous reality of what it means to bring more police into the schools and community.

And there is a bitter irony that these calls for more police in the schools and neighborhoods come at a time when the authorities are covering up the police murder of Corey Harris, who was a star athlete at Dyett High School. Corey Harris was unarmed when he was murdered in cold blood, shot in the back by a Chicago cop. The media have been silent about the fact that now, one month after Corey’s death, his family’s lawyers have still not been told the name of the cop who shot him in the back. And there has been total media silence about this fact. (See “This Time It’s Chicago: Once Again—Cops Murder Unarmed Black Youth,” Revolution #178, October 4, 2009.)

Blaming the People for the System’s Crimes

In October, Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, came to Chicago and addressed the question of violence among the youth. He said, “Somehow many of our young people have lost faith in the future. They’ve been denied love, support and guidance and have grown up believing that their life is not worth anything—so no one else’s life is worth anything either.”

Again, when you strip away the crocodile tears of fake concern, what do you get? Yet another official telling us the people themselves are to blame for the horrible situation this system puts us in. The problem, we are told, is the parents, teachers, the kids themselves. But to Mr. Arne Duncan and anyone else with similar counsel, we say: You want to talk about why youth have lost faith in the future? This capitalist-imperialist system denies the masses of young people any kind of meaningful future. And it has brought about the economic and social conditions that give rise to violence among the youth. And the oppression of Black people is built into the very foundation and fiber of this system. As the RCP’s statement, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have” describes this stark reality:

“For millions in the inner cities, if they are not killed at an early age, their likely future is prison. This system has robbed so many youth of the chance for a decent life and has got far too many living, dying, and killing for nothing—nothing good—nothing more than messing up people and murdering each other on the streets of the cities here...or joining the military, being trained to be murderers on a mass scale, massacring people in countries across the globe. A system which offers millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself—that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!” (Revolution #170, July 19, 2009)

Mr. Duncan went on to say: “We must teach them that violence doesn’t solve anything and that respect for others is the foundation of a safe and healthy society.” Again, Mr Duncan, it is YOUR VIOLENT SYSTEM that has taught the youth that violence is the solution. It is this system that disrespects the youth and denies them their humanity. The police occupy their communities, they humiliate, degrade, and brutalize the youth on a daily basis. Go to cities and towns across the USA and ask the youth how they are treated by the police. You will hear stories over and over again of being unjustly stopped, frisked, beaten down, and killed. Parents live in terror, worried about what will happen to their kids if they are stopped by the police for hanging out, walking down the street or just “breathing while Black.”

And what about how the violence of this system that perpetrates war on people all over the world? That offers up youth as cannon fodder to die so that the U.S. can dominate and profit off of huge swaths of the world? What about your system, Mr. Duncan, that is pulverizing whole villages with bombs from miles above, raiding the homes of Iraqis and people of Afghanistan and terrorizing them in much the same way the police kick in doors here in the ghettos and barrios? And aren’t you the same Arne Duncan who was the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools until January, who turned more public high schools into military academies than any other city? Yes you are. So don’t lecture us about violence.

Duncan keeps wagging his finger of blame at the people saying, “It’s much deeper than that. It’s about our values. It’s about who we are as a society.”

Yes, it is in fact about values, Mr. Duncan. The values of YOUR system: That the youth have no right to a job, or a decent education, or even a roof over their head. That armed police enforcers can slap the youth around, humiliate them, and even shoot them in the back. That the courts and all the other government institutions should unleash, back up, defend police brutality and murder.

And then when the youth internalize all this and act this out on each other, you use that to further repress and criminalize them.

This system pits people against each other in so many ways. It puts people in a situation where, in order to survive, people do really bad things to each other and to themselves. And it is the system that gives rise to and reinforces the cold-hearted mentality of “eat or be eaten” and “look out for number one.” Just think about it—isn’t this the logic and outlook of the capitalist system where survival, profit, and success comes from exploiting and oppressing others?

Yes, the youth do need a new morality. But not your capitalist, dog-eat-dog morality with a dab of sanctimony on top. They need an emancipatory morality. The morality of a totally different kind of system, one where there are no exploiters ruling over and dominating others, where humanity works cooperatively for the good of all, and the morality corresponding to that calls on people to look to serve the highest interests of global humanity, and not “me, my neighborhood or my group.”

Yes, the people do need to change, but they are only going to transform themselves, in a liberating way in the process of confronting the actual source of the problem and by radically changing their conditions. We don’t need “anger management.” We need to direct the anger, alienation and rebelliousness of the youth into a real struggle against the system and for revolution.

This system offers the youth no future, no meaningful life, nothing to live for: But the revolution does.

Stop the Madness of Killing Each Other & Start Fighting the Power!

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

See “False Paths and Dead Ends: Why the ‘Stop the Violence’ Can’t Work” in “The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need,” Revolution #144, October 5, 2008 and “The Plague of Violence Among the People and the Real SolutionThe Plague of Violence Among the People and the Real Solution,” Revolution online edition, September 8, 2008.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond