That video you saw of the high school brawl? Brawls happen every day.

September 30, 2009

robeson-final Mob fights like the one that killed 16-year-old Derrion Albert are a common occurrence outside many of the city's general high schools. The amateur video of the fight between Fenger High School students on September 24 shows students pummeling Albert and others with heavy wooden planks, and it's been playing almost constantly on national television. But Chicago teachers, students and youth advocates say there's only one thing that separates this fight from others:
"On the West Side and on the south Side, there were other mob fights that same day," says Phillip Jackson, founder of the Black Star Project. "The reason that we're talking about Fenger is because a young boy was killed. Not because it was so unique. And not because it was the only place where this was happening. It's only because this one young man was killed."
Kids call it "mobbin'" "¦ and it's happening at elementary schools, too, Jackson says. The fights rarely get any press attention. That's something this teacher noticed as he described a brawl outside Harper High School in a post to District 299 this summer.
I watched from the second floor of Harper High School as a 200 student Riot broiled across the playground. Bats, fists, clubs, the neighbors, were all involved. It was my second day of student teaching. Being naƒ¯ve I read all the local papers the next day, nothing, not one word. I saw blood, scores of police, arrests, and one injured teacher from the melee but I guess it wasn't news.
During our reporting from Robeson High School last school year we saw fights regularly that involved dozens of students. Principal Gerald Morrow shooed kids off school grounds, and the fights spilled down the block. They often began with a false fire alarm pull. You can hear Robeson students interview each other about the fire alarms and fights -- and Principal Morrow getting injured when he tries to step in: robeson-teen Fenger High School junior Sabrina Porter told me yesterday that there are usually fights every day at the school. "Since the incident happened with Darrion, this is the only time where there hasn't been a fight two days in a row," she said. Mob Spotting: Check out 35th and King Drive this Friday when nearby high schools let out, 2:30pm -- 3:30pm.
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