Obama Watched Derrion Albert Beating, Will Speak on Violence "Soon"

Video of Derrion Albert's fatal beating mesmerized and horrified millions of Americans—including, apparently, the White House. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs now says that President Barack Obama discussed the Albert beating with advisers on Wednesday morning, and will address the issue of Chicago youth violence directly sometime "soon."

From the White House press briefing:

GIBBS: This is something that the President has discussed with advisors as recently as this morning in a meeting in the Oval Office.  And we'll have some announcements about that upcoming….

[O]bviously that the reports of and the video that we have seen on television is among the most shocking that you can ever see.  The killing of an honor student by others, who was beaten to death is chilling, chilling video. And I think this is something that the administration has been working on. This is not just a Chicago-specific problem, obviously.  Youth crime and gang violence are something that this administration takes seriously and we'll have more on that soon.

QUESTION:   Robert, when you say this is not just indicative just of Chicago, but throughout the country — the President has talked about fatherhood and not being present in some young men's lives, particularly gang members.  Does this have anything to do, in this White House's opinion, of the fact that there is lack of fathers, broken kind of family structure, as to why these things are happening?  Because that has come into play with many people making explanations of what happened to include the fact that, again, this happened to someone who had nothing to do with it.

GIBBS:  Well, I don't know the individual circumstances of those accused of taking part in the heinous crime. I think in many ways a lot of these crimes are amazingly hard to explain.  I can't imagine why anybody would do what you see being done on that video. Obviously there are certain factors that we know have a tendency to contribute to dropping out of school, not being able to find work — all those sorts of things. Obviously parental responsibility is a big part of that; fatherhood is a big part of that. It's not just about being able to father a child, it's about being able to raise a child.  And not being present is certainly — can tend to be part of that. I don't, again, April, presume to know the individual circumstances here, so I hate to generalize.

QUESTION: A lot of this is policy, but a lot of it is heart.  How are you going to regulate the heart issue?

GIBBS: You can't regulate the heart issue.  And this is not a problem that government alone, as the President often says, at any level is going to be able to solve.  This is going to take community involvement.  It's going to take parental involvement. It's going to take the involvement of everyone to address what is obviously a sad and shocking problem.


For more, read The Root's Jozen Cummings on the sad spectacle.