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October 1st, 2009
04:18 PM ET

Obama administration reacts to Chicago violence

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/09/29/chicago.teen.profile/art.derrion.suspects.3.cpd.jpg caption="From left, Eugene Riley, Silvanus Shannon and Eugene Bailey have been charged with murder of 16 year old Derrion Albert."]

Suzanne Malveaux
CNN White House Correspondent

President Obama is sending Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago Wednesday to visit the Chicago school where an honors student was beaten to death last Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "it's a great concern to the President as somebody who lives in Chicago but would and should be a concern for every American."

Gibbs said President Obama spoke with his advisors Wednesday in the Oval Office about the student murder and directed Duncan and Holder to meet with officials from the school, the students, the community to "talk about the issue of school violence."

The brutal murder of 16 year old honor student Derrion Albert, beaten to death by a group of teens, was captured on cell phone video, and broadcast worldwide. The murder involving students outside Chicago's Christian Fenger Academy High School has shed light on alarming death toll of students in the President's home city-more than 30 killed last year. So far Cook County prosecutors have charged four teens with first degree murder.

Gibbs, who called the video of the beating "chilling" said he did not know whether the President had watched it himself, but said Mr. Obama was "concerned about the incident."

The high-profile tragedy comes at a difficult time for President Obama, who will be leaving shortly for Copenhagen, Denmark to pitch Chicago to be the host of the 2016 Olympic games.

The White House has had to walk a tightrope between expressing sensitivity and concern about the murder while projecting a positive image of Chicago as a safe city.

Gibbs said, "This isn't a Chicago problem, violence, youth violence is a problem throughout our country," Gibbs said.

Nevertheless, the President will be prepared to address the issue if it comes before him from members of the International Olympic Committee.

"The President has full confidence in the safety of the city and will be prepared to talk about that if that comes up as a question," Gibbs said.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Larry

    So if the victim wasn't an honors student then they would not have killed him?

    October 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  2. JC- Los Angeles

    This is far too little and far too late; if Barack Obama, couldn't clean up Chicago, how is he going to clean up America?

    Rather than boarding a plane to Copenhagan in hopes of lining the pockets of the Chicago democratic machine, President Obama should have headed to O'Hare to say enough is enough.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm |