by Lesley R. Chinn
The fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert brought back memories for a parent who lost her 18-year-old son to gun violence three years ago.
Albert, an honor student at Fenger High School, was buried last Saturday after he was beaten to death recently. Attending Albert’s funeral at the Greater Hebron M.B. Church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood was not easy for Pamela Montgomery-Bosley, who lost her son, Terrell, who was killed April 4, 2006 at a Far South side church.
“This was my first time going to [a funeral] service since my baby’s death. It was so devastating to see another child laying in the casket,” Montgomery-Bosley said during an interview with the Citizen. Terrell had aspirations of becoming a famous gospel bass guitar player and traveling worldwide. “I protected him and did all I [could] do, but he is still not here. I get tired of people saying, ‘It was time for Terrell to go’…It wasn’t Terrell’s time to go,” she said.
Montgomery-Bosley is seeking justice for her son by issuing notices about a $5,000 reward for anyone with crime tips. “These murderers are still out here on the streets and I want them to be locked up. Just like they devastated my life, they can devastate another individual’s life.” Montgomery-Bosley, who said she felt like “somebody stabbed her in her heart,” said her 16-year-old son suffers from depression while her 11-year-old son prays every night that no one gets shot.
She said her involvement with two organizations such as Purpose Over Pain and Parents of Murdered Children keeps her going. Purpose Over Pain is a parent advocacy group which works for stricter gun control legislation while Parents of Murdered Children is a support group for parents who have lost their children to gun violence. Another Purpose Over Pain member, Willie Williams Jr. lost his son, Willie III, who was killed that same year at a movie theatre near Ford City shopping mall. Willie III’s murderers have not been brought to justice either. However, Willie Jr. copes with his pain through his organization called the Willie Williams III Youth Foundation, founded in his son’s memory. “Anytime you hear about people losing kids over violence, memories of your own child’s death comes to light. When the cameras are gone, the parents are seriously suffering. It’s a lot of families who lost their children and can’t get over it.”
Montgomery-Bosley and Williams agreed that the violence has gotten out-of-control since their children’s deaths and said if the Supreme Court plans to strike down Chicago’s 27- year-old ban on handguns, it would make matters worse.
Parents should, Montgomery-Bosley added, take responsibility for their children and quit making excuses about their bad behavior. “Our ancestors raised nine or 10 kids and they did good. The fathers may not be in the child’s life, but it’s your job to be the mother and the father,” she said.
Atty. General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to arrive this week in Chicago to address the violence, but Montgomery-Bosley said it wouldtake a “block-by-block strategy” to fix the problem while Williams challenged the officials to walk in the neighborhoods to get a better understanding of “what’s happening” to the youth.
Emerald Dukes, 13, and her brother, Morgan, 16, said Albert’s death was too much for them to bear. “It just reminded me of the young people I know that’s just dying, so I understand their pain,” Emerald said. “That could have been me laying in that casket right now. [The gun violence] is just ridiculous…and no one seems to care,” Morgan added.