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October 4th, 2009
02:56 PM ET

Derrion Albert's Tragic Death Leads to Calls for Action

The mother of a young African-American honor student beaten to death in Chicago on Sept. 24 talks to CNN's Don Lemon about the tragedy, a sad statistic that has made the city one of the country's deadliest for young people. Two former convicts then share their perspectives on how to change the culture of violence that has taken hold in some communities.


Filed under: Chicago's Deadly Streets • Don Lemon
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Mike Armstrong TX.

    Chicago is under Mafia control and the only way to win back the city is to send in the armed forses and replace all of the government officials.

    October 4, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  2. Annemarie Matulis

    The funeral of a 16 year old in Chicago captured national attention on Saturday, October 3rd. The October 4th Boston Sunday Globe spotlighted the story of an 18 year old murdered in April, one of many this year. And last week, the Taunton (MA) Daily Gazette published a story about 31 teens, ages 14 to 16, who were arrested after a melee in a local park.

    We can sit around forever asking why or pointing fingers of blame but when are we as a country, as a society that many dub the most powerful in the world – when are we going to acknowledge that this is a pandemic and that we are way passed time to declare a “state of emergency” as was stated in Chicago on Saturday?

    How many more young people must die in violence before we say enough is enough?

    With upcoming elections close at hand, I sincerely hope that every candidate throughout the United States will be challenged to publicly state what steps each will take to address youth violence prevention in their respective communities. And let’s issue the same challenge to Mayors and Governors when they hold their annual meetings in 2010 and beyond.

    Youth violence prevention has become a public health issue and it's color blind. There is no flu-type shot to give us a quick fix or immunity. All hell broke loose in the United Sates over the H1N1 Swine Flu and millions have been spent in a very short period of time to seek solutions. What will it take to mobilize the country to apply the same importance to three major threats to our youth – violence, underage substance abuse and suicide prevention?

    The time for action is now.

    October 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  3. Lish

    I'm glad to see so much media attention focused on this. I'd like to see you do much, much more coverage of the "good" kids – as in the ones that seem to be the targets of the kids who are choosing or at least perpetuating violence. This way maybe it will be more "cool" to be a good kid. If you only give attention to the kids choosing violence – that will be considered cool instead. We want to really make it cool to do well in life and not to be violent.
    I consider governments and countries to be the biggest "gangs" of all and that the neighborhood kids are just imitating this on a smaller scale. If you listen to them they are saying the same things in defense of their small scale wars that countries are saying in defense of their larger scale ones. If that is just a part of us – or moreso of men, perhaps we just have to bring the draft back so that all can go off to that big gangland and play real life video games and street fighting.
    If teens and young adults get to do that and get it out of their systems and come back with all that under control, maybe they'll be ready for life – just regular life. Or, we're just destined to this mess.

    October 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  4. john

    in Chicago stuff like this happens a lot. it’s a rite of passage coming up in south or west side Chicago public schools to see others getting jumped on or be jumped on yourself.. Most viewers who watch this are saddened by his death. The thing that ticks me off is that if he had just been beaten to the brink of death and spent a week or two in the hospital no one would have even cared. Truthfully this incident only got this much exposure because Chicago had an Olympic bid. Give it three more days and no one will care about what happened to him. Like my friend said when he heard about the story “I don’t see the big deal all of a sudden people get jumped on everyday” lol at you society for acting like you really care.

    October 5, 2009 at 1:30 am |
  5. ANTWAIN LAY

    I'M TIRED OF PEOPLE ACTING AS IF THEY DO NOT KNOW THE REASONS FOR VIOLENCE IN BLACK COMMUNITIES WHICH IS THE LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT PROVIDE AND GIVE A POSITIVE EFFECT IN DEVELOPING THE COMMUNITIES. EVERYTHING CAN'T BE SOLVED BY THROWING MONEY AT IT , WE HAVE TO REGAIN A SENSE OF PRIDE THAT HAS BEEN LONG FORGOTTEN AND THAT STARTS AT HOME. WHAT TYPE OF PARENT ARE YOU?

    October 5, 2009 at 2:00 am |
  6. SGT H. U.S. Army

    I am currently in Iraq and have been watching the coverage on this story for the last few days. Now as I do not agree that the Army is the answer for everyone, but how about school's work closer with local recruiting stations in order to get out there and push these kids into the military? All of these kids want to hurt and kill eachother but how about we push them into helping our military forces to hunt down the people/terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, who want to hurt and kill their families and friends. To myself it's sad to hear that these kinds of things are happening when some of us are over here just for that reason. To keep our Family and Friends Safe for Years to come and In my mind, hunting down every potential terrorist / potential future Bin Laden is my way of doing that, so why do we not push that upon our youth that may be involved in senseless brawlings, killings and other gang related activity? Why not give them the chance to have a real sense of entitlement and accomplishment. Why not have our local recruiting stations in our school's and out in the streets? I have seen some of my best Soldiers come out of rough neighborhoods and gang related activities. Why not have School Administraters, Local Leadership, Mayors, Police Commissioners, and other leadership out there in the streets and school's along side the Military pushing these kinds of options on our youth? There is alot out there that could be done that I am sure isn't being done all because people do not want to put the thought or time in but if we do not have time for our youth than where can we find time for our future?

    October 5, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  7. John W. Mikus

    "Small Town School" Campuses are the Only Systemic Solution to Urban Teen Violence – So long as both parents have to work in this society often at two jobs each, the way schools are structured is the only viable long term solution to teen violence in urban areas. These schools should be structured to serve no more than 2000 students on one neighborhood campus total and the entire spectrum of grades pre-K through 12th grade should be served togehter on that one community campus of the neighborhood. That way each student will have a meaningful positive role to play and will build constructive relationships with both peers and teachers. Parents will more likely establish collaborative relationships with teachers and principal and other parents. Such "small town" school campuses should have daily intramural sports and after-school programs including homework tutoring for all students to participate in and weekly early evening events for all parents to attend. Schools should focus on teaching math, science, writing, and readings and also provide daily P.E., a foreign language, civics and history, and practical skills like keyboarding, personal finance, check book reconciliation, credit card costs, bookkeeping, home economics, and auto repair. The present structure of school campuses where thousands of kids of the same relative age are packed together and lose their identity and are ripe for gang recruitment and victimization is a key part of the problem of teen urban violence. Restructuring schools to be "small town" school campuses serving all grades pre-K through12th of a tighter knit community is the only practical solution to not only teen violence but also educational deficits inherent in the present school structure. Then and only then will real communities be formed in the neighborhoods of areas like South Chicago and then and only then will students, teachers, and parents be able to hold one another accountable for the culture of their community and be empowered to improve that culture.

    October 5, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  8. Borabora

    for all the young everywhere here to U S more specific the young of chicago and the young to L . A imagine you live in a of more beautiful country in the world the world whole you watch all is not easy for you all but you can accept the think of others the choice of orthers and the success others too I have any doubt than you too you can to succeed yes you can but if you want really the succeed the better thing to do it's going to school to have a good behaviour towards the others read a lot imply you in the community it's very very important forget of material of gathering useless say me how you feel you when the members of a families are very sad inconsolable after the loss of their young children thoughtful and to think for his families the success it's not about of the colour of your skin but it's about you if you want really I have the chance to listen mr Christopher Gardner to speak it's a person extraordinary after his conference all the people was happy this is a good example and also of others example here in U S you can choose

    October 5, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  9. Nick Cummings

    First I want to start off by sending my prayers to the mother and family of the lost loved one. What they experienced with the killing of the young man is just a tragedy. Chicago has stats to prove that it is a deadly place for young teens like myself. But on the other hand there are also a lot of muders that take place in other cities maybe even more. For example in my hometown of Montgomery,Al our murder rate was extremely high last year as well as leading up to this year. To wrap things up PLEASE PLEASE STOP THE VIOLENCE!!!

    October 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  10. Zach

    I think that as a young child growing up in an environment where violence is almost nessesary to survive, it is important for people to see that the crimes being committed by these kids and young adults comes from a lifetime of negative influences that surround them everyday. When you live in an erea where gunshots can be heard on the daily, and in a place where u can't go to school without being beat up everyday lest u be forced into a gang,no matter what anyone says, u can't completely blame the ones that commit the crime, but the environment that changes the very way they think. These kids then become forced to hate and block the love in there heart. They gain the mindset of a soldier, and a worrier so they can just do something as simple as surviving. Theres no way anyone can live a nomal life in a situation like that. It's very hard to break out and become something with yourself, if your constantly being told your whole life to do what their inner society tells them to do. It starts off young. They play, live, laugh. And then they learn. Real quick. You know, you can only push it away for so long until finally the lifestyle gives way. In a broken school system, what are they to do when they see 16, 17 year olds making thousands of dollars on the streets selling drugs, while they're going to school everyday, all the while their parents are working 2 jobs, just to barely make ends meet. Eventually that instinct of a kid takes over to want to help there mom PAY the bills and PUT food on the table. So what do they do? They can't wait four more years after high-school to find a good career, or work at a mcdonalds, making minimum wage pay, when all the while their classmates and neighborhood kids are making so much money already. With their fly clothes and new kicks, feeling protected within their click because they know their brother or whatever has their back. No ones gonna mess with you then. See people have to get to the root of the cause. If not, theyre only turning the pages without reading the book, so they don't know what any of it's about except what the cover has on the front to describe it. True, everyone makes their own desisions, but it's only the ones who are truley gifted that can make the right ones happen. So now you have the mindset, but you wonder what the solution is. Well the solution is def. not snitching. That will only cause more bloodshed. And putting the ones away who commit crimes is only a temperary solution to a never ending abyss of violence, that seems to spread like a disease in young children's minds. Because for evry person you put behind bars, and for every gang member that u lock up. Theres always going to be twice as many that spring up out of the woodworks. But the solution is that there is no solution, but there is hope. You can always slow this plague down. You can always stop it from spreading, even though; its always going to be there. It first starts with the parents. They're the ones that have to try their damnedest to lead there child to a path of true honor and integrity. From the time they're born, teach them morals. Morals that will better them as a person; better yet a man. Get them into church. Make them pray every night before they go to bed, enroll them in sports. If they're not into sports, try art, if not art, try politics, if not that, drama. The list goes on.

    October 6, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Zach

    In wasn't done yet actually. Then you have to look to your influential figures, like al sharpton, and jesse jackson, to help promote anti gang organizations, and authority figures that can look out for the ones that walk home and make sure they don't get jumped after school. Also, make sure there is an inhabitable school to go to, so at least the teaching is good, to make the students get involved. Make sure there's enough extracurricular activities. I can go on forever. But the main thing i want to get across is that, no-one should hate a person because of what they've done, but first gain an understanding of what their mindset is, in an effort to maybe help that person. Think of it this way. Take any millionaire out there who has great morals and is completely successful. Now picture that same person being born in south central, LA, who grew up in a broken home, with a mom addicted to crack, struggling to make rent, and on the verge of being evicted. Now do u really think he would grow up to be that same millionaire? I don't think so. Chances are, he's going to grow up selling drugs, and possibly becoming a killer, to those who oppose him, given that he's in a gang.

    October 6, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  12. Nesha

    My prayers are with the family. I am so sickened, this has encouraged me to go up to my childrens schools MORE often to sit in the class. Its a shame that when we send our children to school.. more often then not we send them into the belly of the beast.
    I say this in the MOST loving way that I can think of... if you don't have children don't have them.. you never know what or who is around the corner waiting for them.

    October 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Angela Savage Austin

    We need YOU...CNN! To turn on my T.V. is to see the media reports death, turmoil, hatred, drugs, greed, racism...children killing children/adults,or why Obama fails at all he does!!!!....What hope can you report for the children who wish to invest, who has invested on a daily basis?. How many reports about what our children are accomplishing will you report?. I don't see those reports, as often as I see reports on how our streets recruit those who are crying out to be recognized as not doing the right thing . Please... Cnn report more stories about our children and their peers that chose a different direction. Langston Hughes wrote many years ago.... "WHAT HAPPENS TO A DREAM DEFERRED"?
    Our children are a reflection of us…Adults.... Look at what we are teaching them….around the world….corruption, violence, greed racism.pure hatred, war and rumors of War, self medication sanctioned by Doctors and Pharmaceuticals companies. My God …look how our leaders act, disrespect of each other, inappropriate sexual acts by Teachers, Clergy, Political Leaders, Security Authorities, calling on the death of Our President in the name of God, even Nature is rising up in protest against Humanity ! We Adults are the first one to be responsible for this sick behavior. Our children are the mirror-reflection of ourselves. This is not to excuse their choices, or behavior…however Hostility Breeds Hostility, what do we expect?. Do as I say and not as I do! History has taught us that all Great Empires fell from within. I believe that if we continue to focus on the “Elephant” in the room, “Racism”, that this Great Country will experience that same Fate....we will turn on each other. No one can change the heart and mind of another human being other than God or that person…himself or herself. We all know that Racism is still an infant with a lot of years ahead to grow. As a citizen of Humanity I pray to God we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves why would we want this poison to infect our children and kill their future. God have Mercy on us all, for we know not what we do! In response to children going to school and having longer days and shorter summers... I wrote The White House, Rick Sanchez and Anderson Cooper with the following suggestion. Let’s start a “Campaign For Champions” Why can't we use the Media to create a TV Show where children can write, email, or video that they have a dream and share with the viewing public what their dreams are. The TV Show points them in the right direction by providing them with contacts, programs, any and all resources available to make their dreams come true or jump start them. You have so many resources available and I am willing to help if you have me. Sincerely, Angela Savage Austin

    October 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  14. Chris

    It wasn't so very long ago that parents took belt in hand and disciplined their children to the point where they did not want to get into trouble. Then, well, then the laws started changing as our society elected more and more liberals into office. Our colleges taught and graduated more and more liberals. Our judges, our lawyers, our very government has become so liberal that we cannot punish our own children nor does the justice system keep them in office without early parole for almost everyone, both young and adult ages. Get serious, get less liberal in this problem (and many others) and we can save this country. Keep going in the direction we're heading and we will lose everything.

    October 15, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Angela Savage Austin

    I remember the horror of a "promised whopping" from my grandmother. If we did something that she asked us not to do...even if was not something bad...we would get a "promised whopping" before tomorrow's sun would rise. I remember she too would have tears in her eyes and even kiss us as we run back to our bed...unable to speak...gasping for air between the snot and tears. She told me later that we as Black children did not have the liberty to be "just children" and she was saving our lives from those who wish to kill us. We had to learn to stay in our place because there were evil people out dare who wish we die!!!! You may think this is not true...I know it is....I have proof and other stories that came true when I tested the wisdom of my grandmother!

    October 16, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  16. Dodie ~ California

    First and foremost, we MUST get rid of the Gangs! Even if it means a 9pm curfew for everyone except for work and emergency. US troops walking the streets for a show of 'force'

    If we do NOT break up the gangs, there will be no change.

    After school programs, pouring more money into Chicago will do No good until we break up the gangs.

    This is a 'war zone' so treat it as such!

    October 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm |