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Ceasefire Brings Fenger Students Together for Peace Summit

By Anthonia Akitunde in News on Nov 15, 2009 7:30PM

2009_10_19 Derrion Albert.jpg
Remembering Derrion Albert, photo by JeahFree
Fifty Fenger High School students were brought out of their neighborhoods and into the Loop Saturday to discuss peaceful ways to handle conflict, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Fenger High has gained local and national attention after a video showing the beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert made its way around the internet. Ceasefire, an anti-violence organization in Chicago, gathered the students together to address the violence teeming over from the hallways and into Chicago's streets.

At the heart of the violence is an ongoing feud between students who live in the Altgeld Gardens housing complex and students who reside in an area of the Roseland neighborhood known as "the Ville," according to the report. Though few can pinpoint when and why the feud started, present-day Fenger students still adhere to the battle lines. Students from Altgeld sat together at four tables while Roseland students occupied the other four.

Ceasefire organizers, a few of which are respected ex-gang members in some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods, encouraged students to "speak their minds" and consider the consequences of their actions.

However, according to the report, more than addressing the simmering feud between the two areas, students tended to talk more about the "harsh realities of their day-to-day lives." The discussion jumped from addressing whether or not one has to retaliate to feeling as though parents weren't there to show them a better way.

Although organizers knew ending the violence at Fenger wouldn't happen in one day, some students promised they would take the lessons they'd learn and share them with friends. Ceasefire hopes to continue having summits that would lead to a formal agreement, the Derrion Albert Peace Treaty.