American Morning

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December 14th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Walk in My Shoes: Teen talks about deadly brawl

Editor's Note: This week American Morning is examining the causes of youth-on-youth violence across the country. In part one of the series, "Walk in My Shoes," we talk to Vashion Bullock – one of the teens who participated in the brawl captured on video that left a 16-year-old boy dead. On Tuesday, we talk with teens about why they fight, and if anything can be done to change the behavior.

Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death September 24. His death was captured on video.

Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death September 24. His death was captured on video.

By T.J. Holmes, CNN

Teen violence – it's a problem just about everywhere. In California, a crowd watched a 15-year-old girl gang raped after her high school prom. Five of the six suspects are teenagers.

In Florida, a 15-year-old suffers second-degree burns over 80 percent of his body, when five teens set him on fire in a dispute involving his failure to pay them $40 for a video game.

And in Chicago, captured on a cell phone camera, 16-year-old Derrion Albert beaten to death by a mob of teens. A killing so senseless and brutal it strikes a nerve across the country, all the way to the White House.

“It was a stark wake-up call to a reality that can be easy for too many to ignore,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

A wake-up call to a startling reality where, according to the most recently released CDC figures, an average of 16 young people are murdered each day in the United States. In Chicago, twelve public school students have been killed in the last four months, including Derrion Albert.

“I got some regrets. I wish I would’ve stayed home that day,” says 17-year-old Vashion Bullock, one of the kids who took part in the Chicago brawl.

Facing expulsion from Fenger High School, Vashion says what the public sees in these images and what he saw that day are two different stories. In his world, he says, fighting is about survival.

“One of the kids had thrown a rock at my brother's car, so I approached the boys like 'why ya all, why ya all throwing rocks and stuff at the car.'”

For weeks, Vashion says tension was brewing between two rival factions at Chicago's Fenger High School. Fights between the teens were nothing new, but on this day some kids came with makeshift weapons.

“They brought those weapons to the fight. That's what the people are not understanding. They picked up them housing bricks and brought them, they picked up them bottles and brought them. They ripped up the railroad tracks just to fight.”

Video of the fight shows a shirtless Vashion with his brother Eugene Riley standing next to him, both empty-handed as another teen whacks Vashion with a wooden plank. When the brothers appear again, they're holding planks.

T.J.: So your brother comes over and does what?

Vashion: Swung on one of them with me. He's fighting with me. … He had to protect himself and me because I am his little brother.

T.J.: You’re telling me your brother was simply defending himself and defending you at the time with whatever was around and whatever the other side was using.

Vashion: Come on. I got hit in the back of my head. He got hit in the back of his head with a stick.

T.J.: Did Derrion, as far as you know, did he ever, was he ever part of the group that was jumping you?

Vashion: I ain't gonna say he was fighting me cuz I couldn't tell.

T.J.: So you assume he was over there trying to swing on you and trying to fight you and your brother?

Vashion: No I ain't assuming. I know for a fact.

Authorities have repeatedly said Derrion was nothing more than an innocent bystander on his way home from school, caught between two rival groups.

T.J.: So from what you see in that video. What do you see your brother doing to Derrion?

Vashion: I see him fighting. He hit him with a stick. It was a fight.

Derrion was still on the ground when Vashion's brother Eugene delivered a final blow.

T.J.: I know it's your brother and I know you love him, but do you think it was necessary to take it that far?

Vashion: They brought those weapons to the fight. That's what the people not understanding.

T.J.: But Derrion was down. Why did you think your brother had to go after and hit this kid, who clearly wasn't a threat anymore at least?

Vashion: He was another body, another body with two hands that could've been swinging on anybody.

T.J.: What did you think when you heard that Derrion had been killed?

Vashion: That was sad. Ain't nobody meant to take his life.

After video of the brawl was released, Vashion's brother Eugene was taken into custody – one of four teens charged in the killing of Derrion Albert.

T.J.: You think your brother should be in jail right now?

Vashion: No.

T.J.: Why not?

Vashion: Because it was a fight. A fight happens daily. People die daily.

T.J.: But you know for the police and for our justice system that isn't good enough. Your brother picked up something, hit a kid, and the kid died.

Vashion: What about the other people that picked up the weapons and hit me. Where they at?

T.J.: Don't you think somebody should be held accountable for Derrion's death?

Vashion: No, not accountable for the whole thing because it was a mistake. Ain't nobody want him to die. And nobody meant for him to die. We just was a fight. Fights get took out of hand. Not intentionally, just because.


Filed under: Crime • Walk in My Shoes
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. sos!

    i can relate with hurt behind the shadow im scared to but take one step at a time and youll make it cause god is sheilding you stay away from them read the bible.

    January 20, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  2. Marie

    I love this series and would like to see more of it on. It is important inform people how and why this happens. We must remember that unless we have community involvement the cycle may continue with our future generations. These issues are not only a parents responsibility but the communities as well. Remember, the teens parents most likely grew up the same way their children did; how can you teach differently if you don't know otherwise.

    December 23, 2009 at 11:10 am |
  3. John Carrigan

    Why is it that everyone wonders why our teens live in such a voilent society? Does anyone, mainly parents, actually LISTEN to the rap our teens are force fed everyday in their lives? Nothing but profanity, violence, and the total de-grading of women! Why are we so surprised that they act out what they see and hear as acceptable in American society today? Video games, same thing, VIOLENCE as a means of entertainment. With so many other very good artists out there, why does the industry continue to promote trash? For decades I have found that NOBODY can deliver a soft love ballet like the truly talented black artists can, NOBODY!! They are out there. Why not give the youth of America good role models instead of trash. The youth of our great nation is the future of America, but, the greedy are content to cash in at the cost of our youth. It's time America takes off the blinders and rid our airways of this filth. Remember, money talks, boycott record labels, corporations that sponsor the sell of filth. Meanwhile, check your teenagers i-pod, CD's, etc. and start cleaning house under your own roofs and explain to your child, you don't talk to them with this sort of language, therefore, you won't allow ANYBODY else to. Sure, they will get mad at you, whats new, but YOU are the parent!! Stand up and stop the spread of filth.

    December 16, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  4. Kitt Gagnon

    I just watched this mornings story and I was deeply saddened to tears for these kids. As a Canadian I have no clue what it is like to live in a place like that. It disturbs me that people have to live like that. A constant state of fear is not the way a child should have to grow up. It does not surprise me to hear that most kids won't finish school and reach their dreams out of fear. Graduation and happiness should be what these kids should be thinking about, not just, will I make it through the day alive.
    So so sad, but for those who persevere and survive, you have the strength to succeed just like your President, whom I believe is a great role model and a person with a good soul who cares so much about all of you.
    Good luck and God bless.

    December 16, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  5. Jimmy

    It's scary how many NIMBY's are out there who have no clue what the streets are like, The kid talks this way because it's his reality. Period. And there are millions more just like him. And there are millions more Darrion Alberts as well, until we begin to care about their world too.

    December 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  6. mischa

    it's cause it to dangerous for teachers and school officeals to get in the middle of kids disputes and that is a problem and one that is all over the U.S.A. and Canada

    December 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  7. scott

    i think that that guy should spend atleast 30 years in prison. He killed someone and thats the bottom line. A young life was taken and was killed why he layed on the ground. Thats irresponisble on the older brothers half and now he has to "man" up and take responsibillity for his actions since he was man enough to kill someone

    December 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  8. April

    This case is very disturbing at the least and I question the understanding of this young man and others who were involved in the case. I would like to interview the parents of this young man and find out what values he and his brother are being taught. I would never want my child or any child to have to suffer from something like this and I am praying for the children who have to "survive" this type of environment as they grow up and develop into the next generation of adult men and women.

    December 15, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  9. Paul Ramseur

    WE don't teach our teenage the right things. We should teach them to love and care for oneanother. Teach them what the BIBLE say, not take GOD word away from them, teach them to PRAY, Don't tell teach them it wrong to PRAY, Put JESUS in their liife, Stop taking Him ( JESUS ) out.

    December 15, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  10. wutang

    I think this story is complicated. Whether this young man was an innocent bystander or he was actually going all out to engage in a fight; it brings up much more important issues.

    First, however, i would like to keep everybody in check about judging and making such narrow minded decisions/conclusions to things you know nothing of. If you have never been through it, you cannot deny that your opinion has no true unbiased value in an appropriate conversation... Even if you have learned all the "truly right" values.

    All aside the point, all aside the point... You know fighting's the problem, guns are the problem, gangs are the problem, drugs, and even the man cooper interviews about the situation says how the education is the problem. All of which are true and need to continuously battles against...

    But you all need to see, the biggest problem of masculinity in America. I don't know why is wasn't addressed after columbine. The problem is what the world, or at least in America, is telling its youth and Everybody else about what being a "man" is. Not that i oppose them but our magazines, music, movies, almost anything with a message... how that affects a society. And if you don't understand that, there ain't no way i can tell you.

    You don't even need to hear it from me. In the Cooper segment, they compare whats going on to those neighborhoods to the war. Both the worst of something you sometimes Have to do. (think about that one again) I was somewhat surprised on the coverage of this story, this should not seem like a shocking incident; we are shown to be aggressive. Desensitized we are and, should have already known its been a countdown to the next time this happened.

    When someone passes they say who you live through. I assumed the way you lived through someone was by any characteristics you had acquired over the time you spent listening to them, watching them, copying them. So put into perspective the "when" people grow up. think about what we are desensitized to already, what messages through media and etc. we are surrounded by, and how these stories, traits and beliefs have already begun to live through our youth and even our own mind-state.

    Just start looking around at it all, masculinity and all, get a little skeptical and then try to tell me this is not the ultimate cause of days like this.

    its unfortunate if you don't get it.

    December 15, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  11. Erika

    I truly believe that the violence should cease, however violence does not just occur in black neighborhoods or among black students. I dont condone fighting either & my parents never did, but my mother always told me "Dont be a punching bag either!" Its all in a matter of the child, a lot ppl have walked away from fights, to later get into another situation. Sometimes you cant always turn the other cheek.

    December 15, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  12. Simon Halberstadt

    Funny how no one seems to realize that as a problem of the poor this same sort of violence happened in previous generations with every race in the US. Every group of immigrants had their organized and dis-organized crime and street violence. Read Nelson Algren (sp) or Charles Bukowski for reflections of poverty, booze, drugs that seem to be dragging society down. Anywhere there is poverty there is mayhem and hopelessness, no matter what race. Some poverty is by choice, some by personal circumstance or when larger demographics are concerned by societal perceptions. I'm white and I'm lower income but I don't have to fight my neighbors to walk to work. Remember the irish, the jews, the asians or any nationality when one thinks about poverty and street crime. The American memory is too short. I think we spend too much energy thinking about money.

    December 15, 2009 at 1:00 am |
  13. Dan Underhill

    What I saw in the news reporter film was one guy who stated that it was just a fight, bull – a fight is with your fist and not a 2 x 4 that hit your head like a egg. This is murder in the first degree, you might of pull a gun out and shot the guy with the same results.
    The man or kid on the film was far from someone that knows right from wrong. I know that it's a big city crime and all, but if you know right from wrong you would not get involved period. But the person that was swing the 2 x 4 should get the death penatly.

    December 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  14. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    You know, I was raised in this city for arguably all my life but that's how it is. But back in the day, you went up against the old-schoolers, now is the new-schoolers. A lot has changed that's for sure.

    But is been like that for many, many years. You can blame it on the schools for not having great supervision, or our parents for not knowing who we hang out with, or society for not realizing how gangs and crews influence us, etc. There's really a lot of variables and that's a poor neighborhood, what you expect. is about being the baddest of the baddest, the toughest of the toughest and so on. In other words, is another way to get respect and so forth. I confess, I got into fights back in the day but never used weapons or guns, we fought with fists and strength. But nope, i can't say i fought for violence and violenece, I can't say I fought because it made me feel good, etc. I fought with gangbangers and crews, I protected myself and T.J makes a valid point. I guess is a way of being a "man", you know? Is a way of inferioting your manhood. To show that you can't get picked on. is the same situation as this here.

    I did find it appalling and interesting how he says he fights every week or couple of weeks, didn't give no rational explanation. But is exactly my point. I guess you can't say is like the Animal Kingdom. The bad of the bad are on top and is safe to say some(just some) wanna be on top and be there. But nowadays, these shorties have guns and A.K's, and they know how to use it.

    I also find it chocking that someone managed to use a phone to record this, that's just incomprehensible in my mind. Who in the world records a brawl with many witnesses and innocent people around? You think they wanna get involve or get recognized? That's just crazy. The world of social media definitely gives it a bad name when it comes to "news" nowadays.

    But in all honesty, is a lot of problems, it really is. Many factors and variables come into play. And is not just African-Americans, is Mexicans or Hispanics, Whites, etc. It really is everywhere in this city but that's how it is. You can't blame one person because it contradicts to what another person may say or vice versa so is not a easy situation than it is. That kid may not be in a gang or from a crew but I can bet you he sees it so he observes and reports. Is common like that here, is everywhere. Parents work day and night, they struggle hard to put food on the table, they do a lot to sacrifice themselves. Trust moi, parents do want what's best for their kids and so on, is not like they turn individualists and forget about their loyalty to their family.

    My mom used to be on my ass every time when i was a kid. She didn't like my friends, she didn't like who I hang around with, who I knew, etc. And I knew A LOT of people, people everywhere and so on. But there is one thing I learned...trust me, for some people, some are friends and best friends, they do a lot for you but the friends that trust you and respect you, love you for who you are and what you be. Trust me, some kids are in fact good, is just a question if they wanna be good, that's all.

    Sincerely,

    First hand knowledge.

    December 14, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  15. Ty

    TJ, first and foremost I'm a huge fan of you and CNN. I've been paying close attention to this story. What I feel most important for people to understand is, to fully grasp the "why" of this situation is to understand the complexity of the situation. What most people don't know is everyone is right. These kids are ignorant and are lost. But our schools, communities, parents, and government has failed them time and time again. To the point now we have kids killings kids everyday somewhere in the US. We can no longer afford to sweep this problem under the rug and casually bring it up again when this happens somewhere else in our country. Or until this happens in a suburban town. Why is this not an initiative with our government? Yes I’m sure if you ask President Obama about this situation he will say we are working on it and all the other correct words, but where is the initiative?! We need change in our inner cities and poor communities. Community organizations, beefed up police patrols, perhaps a special force for teenage violence. And ofcourse money and support. How about instead of fighting over whether or not abortion should be covered in healthcare (and it should) or whether or not there is a public option (there should be), let’s focus that energy and intensity on saving our children. Politicians argue how our actions and spending will leave our kids in debt. Well how bout if there are no kids to leave anything behind….

    December 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  16. John

    I have to agree with Jillian. Many fights, killings, killing going on here in Chicago have to do with school "turn arounds". And I cannot believe that Americans are going to allow Arne Duncan to do nationally what he has done in this city via "Race to the Top" bribes.
    Don't take the money!

    December 14, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  17. Frank from San Diego

    The media – television and music – plays a strong role in the upbringing of inner-city kids. It matters little if parents are heavily or neglectfully involved in their kids' lives. Once kids get a hold of these outlets, they want to be like who's on T.V. or the radio. The glamour and limelight generated by those who "made it" from their "hood" infuses the influence. The problem lies in the perpetuation and exaggeration of improper behavior – language used, slang, inappropriate attitudes – by the ones who "made it" in T.V. and music.

    In television (especially reality shows), what do viewers witness the most? Fighting, arguing, and belligerent behavior are portrayed by cast members or those against cast members with the producers hardly revealing any consequences to the ones who committed the inappropriate act. This makes people think, "I could hit someone, act a fool, and it'll be ok!" (i.e. MTV's "Jersey Shore", "Real World", "I Love New York" etc.).

    In music (especially Hip-Hop), there's hardly any talent found in the industry anymore. Nowadays, if you have a catchy rhyme with a generic beat, it's an instant hit. From the inception of Hip-Hop until the late 90's, the mainstream delivered a plethora of good talent. Yes, there's a difference between Hip-Hop and Rap. Now the mainstream is filled with cheap talent giving our youth the hope that good talent is no longer necessary to join the ranks of success. Today's lyrics all fall in the same categories of sex, drugs, and violence contributing to the psyche of negative behavior.

    The youth needs more exposure to movies like "Finding Forrester". We need reality shows that depict inner-city kids succeeding by staying in school, participating in sports, music, or drama, and other alternative activities. We need more support from celebrities that came from the "hood" to advocate that you don't have to be a thug or act like one anymore to succeed if you're from the "hood" (i.e. Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Will Smith). Strict censorship or the return of it should be implemented. Laws regarding the purchase of certain music and movies should be enacted to mimic the laws of purchasing liquor or adult content (18/21 or over with ID). We need more enticement in the fields of social work, education, and public safety – mainly pay and opportunities – to increase interventions with troubled inner-city youth. Bring back anti-violence movements like they did in the early 90's (music artists joined to create songs like "Self Destruction" by Stop The Violence Movement and "All In The Same Gang" by West Coast Rap All-Stars).

    There's more fear from a street thug now than there is from a terrorist.

    December 14, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  18. Mike

    Beyond rehabilitation, try them all as adults, lock em up and throw away the key!

    December 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  19. Michael

    It's mind-boggling how bias the media is. While it is true that this violent act should not be condoned; however, there is a discrepancy between how latinos and blacks teens vs. white teens are portrayed in the media. When black teens are involved in violence, they are called mobs, thugs, animals, a gang, etc. But, when white teens are involved in violence, they are called rowdy, misguided, troubled teens, etc. Hmmm! This bias is pervasive. Think about these incidents: Remember the central park jogger case nearly 20 yrs ago, remember New Orleans looting incident, remember Rodney King, and now this incident in Southside Chicago. All I'm saying is if the media is going to be critical of teens, paint all (regardless of race) of them with the same brush. Period.

    December 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  20. Edward

    I have to give TJ props I do not know how long I could engage in a conversation with this idiot without calling him a moron and an illiterate.

    December 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  21. ycw

    The problem starts at home. If the parents aren't giving the kids a good example of how to live where is the kid suppose to learn? Who's going to teach him about taking responsibility for his actions? Kids join gangs as a substitute for having a family. (Yes, I know that sometimes good parents can have one kid that goes wrong for some reason.)

    A couple people talked about the music the kids listen to and the artist they look up to as part of the problem. The way I see it is if your song has to be edited to be played on the radio then it shouldn't be played at all. Parents can also turn the radio off.

    December 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  22. Swoboda

    I completly agree with Darrell. The truth is kids are not born violent, its learned. Kids, especially African American kids, need to have better role models. A majority of African American role models I see on TV are the thugs that glorify and promote drugs and violence. Its simple, when young impressionable kids see these older rap stars talking about selling drugs, killing, and fighting, at the VERY least this makes this unacceptable behavior more acceptable to them. In the inner city drugs and violence are not an inevitability, and that needs to be made clear so that young kids today can make better decisions.

    December 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  23. Renzo

    People,

    Seriously, FTW. Sad to say, but this is the mentality we should use. And no I don't mean it as in "they get into fight let them kill each other" FTW... I mean they are screwing themselves up and everyone around us (media, society) is becoming more and more concerned over their own well being than others... Again FTW!!! Don't put people through hard times now, but don't even try saving them. FTW!

    December 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  24. SV

    Thank you for this interview. Would have been helpful to've had some critical analysis to grapple with the depth of the problem underlying this teen's responses. He's not making excuses, he's stating his experience of reality – fights are a fact of life and you have to stand up for your own family and friends just to get by day to day. The threat of "putting these kids away" or "making them pay the consequences" does not compare to the threat they feel from each other. It will make some of us feel safer, but will not root out the problem.

    Everyone has a responsibility – the parents, the community, celebrities, law enforcement, social services, and each of US – to outweigh the bad with good, to provide limits and structure, to reward the positive, and, yes, to punish the negative. In communities like Derrion's and Vashion's, the bad is so powerful, that a whole lot of good from many sources is needed to counter it. It's too easy to point fingers – it's the parents, the schools, the government – but much harder to answer the question, "What am *I* going to do today to help?"

    December 14, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  25. Kristian D.

    Leatha,

    Please do not comment on something you know absolutely nothing about. Not only does it reveal your lack of intelligence, but also shows how shallow of a person you are. Take your silver spoon out of this conversation, and off this blog.

    I really enjoyed the way you put perspective into this interview, TJ, and how you revealed that this is not just a story of violence, but a growing problem with our youth.

    Instead of people like Leatha, who as a kid worried about wether her parents could buy her that brand new BMW for her 16th birthday, this teenager is worried about how he could possibly have hope for a future when his current environment is in peril. Fighting, robbing, and killing a person do not have the same internal effect on someone who has been desensitized by something they see on a daily basis.

    Next time you start fretting about how the economy is making this so hard on you, think about the kid that never learned what an economy is/will never have the chance.

    December 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  26. Joel-Minnesota

    I grew up in that neighborhood, went to that high school, 30 years ago it was a tough neighborhood, however we did not experience the cold and callousness, and the lack of concern for others is something that has developed since that time. What we are looking at is a cultural shift. A large segment of the African American community has shifted to it's own culture with it's own set of rules and guiding principles with a general design for living that says 1) trust no one 2) anything is possible. the subsequent rules of this culture emphasize such traits as selfishness, individualism, violence, hostility, and implusiveness, immediate gratifation, hedonistic pleasure, irresponsibliity with out signs of remorse or motivation for change. Now take any kid a raise him/her in that culture and you get Vashion Bullock or worse.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  27. Cris

    ..and Tony-
    thanks for addressing as well.
    I just disagree that parenting ends when the kid walks out the door.
    Does Jesus leave his followers the moment they walk out of the church?
    ..maybe. just a thought though.
    A parent embeds moral value that stays with the child no matter where they are. Yes, even those raised with good values have bad days and make bad decisions, however, a child is the responsibility of the parent.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  28. Cris

    J. D. Fisher-
    Thanks for your reply.
    I read each post with an open mind in an effort to "walk in someone elses shoes" (pun intended, yes. :))

    I actually am a songwriter by trade and am aware of the effects that musci has. I watch and read a room and can make a crowd of people go any direction i want in a live setting. Very interesting how it works. As far as "popular" music in it's broadcast over the airwaves...if any sort of music was "banned" or "discontinued" it now can find so many other avenues with the internet and youtube and such. The time for censorship has now long passed.

    As far as violent words and actions on display goes, I personally am against MMA being so prevalent on TV these days. It's on at CLUBS and BAR where people drink?? recipe for disaster imo.

    Back to your experiment J.D., It is a good one. Parents have it tough as far as limiting kids passion. (romeo and juliet) If you are hanging with your impressionable child enough you get to weigh in on everything. Bugs Bunny road runner. "No honey, if you get hit by a train you don't get to pop back up off the tracks."
    50 cent. "Yeah, this track makes us move and is fun, but look at it more like a movie cuz this life it speaks of is so dangerous and I love you and would never want to lose you to that."

    I'm 38. I was raised in NYC AND out west on a cattle ranch so I have seen some stuff but not lived the "ghetto" life.

    I really just believe that parents are step one in importance and how can you take the right second step without the first?

    thanks again J.D.
    I hope for infinite smiles

    December 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  29. Jay

    What I am reading here reeks of gross ignorance and just blatant stupidity.

    If someone decides to attack you in the middle of the street with a weapon and you turn around and kill the person your attacking.... what is that called?

    Self Defense.

    If it is true and a whole bunch of punks decided to attack these kids who are unarmed at first. And they decide to fight back multiple assailants killing one. Then that is simply.... self defense.

    I don't care if it is inner city, in a school, on the streets, in your home. It doesn't what race you are or what religion you believe.

    A normal person without blinders should view what happened (at least with the information provided) as self defense.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  30. Mr. Self

    In addressing this issue of teens violence we must look at the gestalt of this epidemic, which has profoundly embedded itself into the heart and minds of young Americans. When a child leaves the home we have to understand that the teaching of the parents may become secondary to the environment in which the child enters. The parent is responsible for the cultivation of the mind, heart, and soul of the child to the best of their abilities, and many parents do their best. But, when your own government fails to foster a safe environment for these teaching to be carried out, it leads to the ideals of survival. Hence, the teen violence, and dealing of drugs, which is prominent in the inner city. With no infrastructure for jobs and poor educational systems, being the least of the government priorities. The youth have no tangible understanding of what it means to be a successful individual beyond the block or country dirt road in which they reside. As our own government and media do nothing to give the youth hope for a better future, instead focus on the negative verses promoting the good within these communities.
    As seen by Mr. T.J. Holmes, who believes this only occurs in the streets of the inner cities and not in the well kept "vanilla suburbs" (as Mr. West would say). Giving more worth to the teens of the financial elite, who seemingly only worry about cars and clothing. I myself am in disbelief by such words, because with that statement Mr. Holmes you have simply swung a verbal blow to the hopes of those who seek to do better within the inner-cities. Where are your words of encouragement, because beyond the neutrality of your reporting, you too are responsible. And could you take the actions of these teens and juxtapose them with the previous and current actions of our nation's military. Because, I firmly believe one is no different than the other, except those persons get medals of honor for their own survival tactics. Which is the angle I believe the young man was trying to get at in his own words....I am being terrorized, and there is no person to defend me, so I have to fend for myself. Which seemed to go over Mr. Holmes' head when stated indirectly.
    In ending, I feel sorry for the young man, because he simply is trying to survive in festering wounds of America, and yet no one tends to them. In this case, justice is determine by the wrongful actions of freeing one young boy's soul and encaging many others.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  31. George

    To be honest, I wish I could care more about this. At most it is an interesting tidbit of "Oh my God" news that I may, or may not talk about over a cup of Starbucks with the wife this evening.

    The fact is, that Chicago seems like another planet compared to where I live now. The people involved (parents, community, brawlers) too inarticulate, too uneducated, too poor for me to relate.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  32. teacher

    All of you talking about Obama helping schools....why is it that school funding has been cut by 50% since he stepped into office.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  33. Jenny

    Good statement Tony. These things aren't new in our world. There are just more media outlets reporting them today then there was 20-30 years ago. Truth is, it's a sad story that happens in more places than inner-city Chicago.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  34. impy

    I have walked in their shoes. I took summer school classes in an inner city High School so I could graduate early. I was threatened repeatedly, trash talked, made fun of, spit on and chased by multiple people on many days. All for being different, in this case it was being white and intelligent. I was even nearly carjacked by a fellow student. Nobody seemed to care, the best advice I was told was to "stay away white-bread". Several people "mean mugged" me for no reason at all. It made no sense. Even after all that I never resorted to violence, even though I had firearms at my disposal.

    Line up the belligerents involved and charge them all with accessory, or complacency, to murder (including the camera operator). Then charge every single parent with anything you can throw at them, its their fault for raising scum. Then bill them for any costs involved between the medical, police, funeral, prosecutorial and the incarceration process. Then install cameras and enlist more officers to patrol before and after school. Lots of tasers and guns should be involved on behalf of the authorities. Its hard to fight someone when you are winching from the pain of 50,000 volts or some fresh hot lead in your flesh. Lets give returning Veterans the jobs, they can handle it. Most of these punks and thugs on the streets are nothing compared to real combat experience. This should all be handled at the state or local level, Washington has no authority in the matter.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  35. Jared

    It's mind boggling how some folks, I'll use Wycleff Jean as an example, can grow up in a hut – move to a New York ghetto, and possess the capacity to make good choices; yet others can't seem to grasp that mentality.

    Chicago is the New Orleans of the Midwest...A city where corruption, greed, and lack of accountability is leading to another lost generation. Very, very sad.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  36. CMD

    It's sad to see that someone could be so ignorant about violence in their own neighborhood. No one should be held accountable???? What if this would've been his brother instead of young Derrion? I'm sure he would want justice then. It doesn't matter if they meant to kill Derrion or not. The fact remains that he is dead because of their actions, so they have to take responsibility for those same actions. There is no proof in the video that Derrion was in the fight....he is assuming that he was in the fight which is very stupid and ignorant. He should just say that he doesen't know because making a statement that strongly about something you don't know anything about is dumb. The guy in the video also stated that Derrion was another person with two arms and two fists that posed a threat. So he was that big of a threat unconscious and on the ground???? He is trying to give an explanation for killing a child when there is no explanation. His brother, as well as the other kids killed Derrion...point black period. So yes, all of them should be in jail. We live in America and never should we tolerate or accept the killing of another person because of a fight over something so small. This video disturbs me and I hope all of the young men that were involved in the killing of Derrion get the MAXIMUM sentence.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  37. Berry R.

    The end result of the fight is tragic but putting a kid in jail is not the answer. Once again, people choose to deal with the outcome instead of the root cause. Impoverished neighbourhoods in what is always called the greatest nation on earth. Great nations do not suffer 3rd world conditions within their borders. The great nations of the world deal with these things head on....not build more facilities for those so desperate they will try anything to escape their life situation. Think about it. Instead of bailing out banks and sending junk into space, the US needs to get its priorities straight. The rich barricade themselves into gated communities, the shrinking middle class aspire to be able to do the same as the privileged upper class, and the left are there fighting for the most basic survival. You can polish it up all you want, but below the surface this is a nation in turmoil and walking a very fine line. All empires come to an end.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  38. Kimono Kijiwa

    Jillian said: "how his arbitrary closing of schools while he was "CEO" of Chicago schools caused students to have to walk through unsafe neighborhoods, because their local school was closed?"

    This "arbitrary" closing of schools was just and needed. We can't let neighborhood beefs and cultures prevent under-utilized schools from closing down.

    Jillian, the interview of Vashion Bullock was just and needed. His mentality shows that the problems are an attitude problem. We need to change the attitudes of people.

    School district officials ought to have the authority to send violent kids under 18 to state boarding schools *without the consent of their parents* if disciplinary problems inside and outside the school committed by the violent kids are proven and properly documented – if a trial by the district convicts the children, the children will be sent away and will be unable to leave, and the parents will only be able to get them out if the conviction is reversed. The parents will be automatically billed as a punishment.

    Alternatively if the parents willingly send their kids away to the state boarding schools, they will NOT be billed.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  39. Leslie

    What a sad situation. A teenager was killed and no one wants to take responsibility. Vashion's mother might feel differently had it been her child who was killed instead of alive in jail! Where's the humanity? Parents need to be held accountable for the senseless actions of their children! Msg to Vashion's mother: If you have so little value for life and you don't believe there are consequences for your actions then you deserve to be in the jail cell right next to your son. It's obvious that you've done such a disservice to both your sons by not teaching them how to be decent human beings! How about you start taking personal responsibility for the role you play in this world.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  40. Brian

    This is democracy at work in the schools.

    I was very close as a teen to start my own school shooting but just waited it out knowing no more school when I grow up will make it better and I was right.

    What was so wrong where I went to school?
    New kid is always wrong no matter what even if the new kid(me is telling the truth)
    Case in point. Walking to class the very first time and enter the room and the cheerleader breaks the teachers lamp on the desk.

    Since I am new all fingers were on me that I did it.
    So in Texas I got 17 paddles to my buttocks by a male principle of the school in Irving. So I was a sock puppet to everyone and everyone loved to push me around and one day I refused to be the victim anymore and stood up for myself and many girls knew my truth and my anger and a football player wanted to beat me up after school and one the girls felt sorry and sad for me and tried to stop the fight and other girls got in to punch her and then her boyfriend punched the girl for hitting her girl and it spread to 50 people fighting because I stood up for myself. So I am expelled for something I did not do.
    I still want to kill that principle in Jr. High at Travis Jr High but I am sure he might be dead of old age now.

    The year was 1984
    ( I am happy when I see kids get on news for revenge killings.)
    The bullies deserve to be hit back 100 fold for the pain they cause.
    AMEN TO THAT!

    December 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  41. david

    There are many factors that would have to handled to make appreciable decreases in youth violence. Our poor are still trapped in a cycle of low pay, joblessness, debt and use of drugs and alcohol. The kids out on the streets fighting for the most part have learned violence from their own parents. Ninety percent of youth killers have been abused by their parents. Our society allows violence to be glorified in music, movies, and in war. Our acceptance of sex outside of marriage ultimately burdens our young girls with babies and no education and no time for education to support their children. The solution will require a change in the economic system as well as the social system. Since that will require some sacrifice on the part of the "haves" don't hold your breath for any solution in the near future.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  42. Kathy

    The title of this article is appropriate: "Walk in My Shoes." I agree wholeheartdly with Josh and Darrell. Just as Vashion stated, it comes down to survival. He wished he hadn't gone to school that day. In order to survive, you have to fight. You can't punk out. Even in our prisons, guys can't go in and do their time, they have to fight to survive too. These are shoes I wouldn't want to walk in, but I can understand. What you have to understand is that these kids know it's wrong, but when you are dealing with actions such as these to survive, it's the last thing on your mind. The only thing you can do is walk in HIS shoes to understand what and why. Then let him walk in YOUR shoes to LEAD him to how.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  43. Pamela

    Dumb kids usually have dumb parents. When are we going to hold parents accountable for their childrens' behavior?

    December 14, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  44. Tony

    I agree with Darrel and totally disagree with you, Chris.

    It's not all parenting. Parenting ends when the child walks out that door and has to know right from wrong. Good parents have watched in horror as their children have been party to bad behavior, and sometimes murder.

    The video interview of the brother clearly shows a young man who has grown up in the "jungle" of the inner city, who believes that violence begets violence. He stops short of saying it's almost his job to be violent, to live violence. It doesn't have to happen to him every week. He chooses it to happen, because he gets caught up in a system where he's loved by his friends for the violent actions he and his brother and the rest of the gang commit, as they provide to each other they have each others "back."

    This is not a new problem. We keep on saying we're shocked it has gotten this far. I'm 43 and remember these types of fights when I was 18. It's not shocking to me that these things are happening, when they've been happening all along.

    And, it is corporate America funding depictions of violence and gore through videos, games and other entertainment media, that suggest to teens that toughness and machismo resulting in violence is the method they should use, instead of walking away or talking through their problems with each other. Gangsta rap fuels gangsta actions. If you think that's not true, you're delusional.

    The cycle of poverty, lack of education, media portrayals and parental irresponsibility all combine to fuel this insanity. There's no one reason for it and there's no one way to solve it.

    What's amazing to me is that while we try to help so many other countries, the battle going on in our inner city...the struggle and strife lived by the poor and downtrodden...this is what you'll see. This is reality TV, for sure. Until someone decides to stop funneling billions in foreign aid and to start building the infrastructure and investing in these people, this uneducated, violent mess will exist.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  45. Kimbiqua

    I think most of us with means would have fled this situation before it got this bad. I feel so badly for these kids and families who have little means and choice in the matter, and are left to fight for both their own justice and for their survival. What help is available for them to make this stop before they have to take things into their own hands. Seriously – who could help them? What would you have done?

    December 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  46. Janine

    Everret,
    This has nothing to do with black or white. the fact is that we DO need to listen and we do need to LEARN. We need to understand what is going on with these childern all childeren and try to help the situation. Babies killing babies is wrong. This is happening with whites, blacks, mexicans..everyone! This needs to be taken care of, no young child deserves to die...no young child deserves to be put in a survial mode situation. parents need to take responsibilty and teach there children right from wrong. this fight against violence can ONLY be one if the parents put in 100% effort!

    December 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  47. Manhattan

    Someone brought up slavery, what does that have to do with the violence today? The article is very revealing, shows the youth needs some english lessons. The brother is illiterate and should be focusing on educating himself instead of fighting or he will eventually be in his brothers shoes. Defending his brothers actions just goes to show some people do not value life like the civilized world. No excuses, jail and education for all involved!!

    December 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  48. Sid

    Help! is all I here from this CHILD. Remember ADULTS, we are talking about children. I was born in the inner city of Chicago. I know all about the violence and the stress the former public school CEO placed on these children when schools were closed because of a lack of funds. Children walking thru rival neighborhoods to attend school. America lets be realistic. We limit the funds for our educational system when it comes to the inner city. Keep these kids busy. Children are raising themselves. The parent has to work more than one job just to survive. This is just a symptom of all the issues the inner city youth experience. A symptom of our educational system.
    On another note, this type of thinking is typical of an inner city teen-ager. Survival of the fittest. We created this madness. Now we as a society should control it with programs and the justice system. Putting them in jail for protecting themselves only creates more criminals. This is a travesty but IFDerrion Albert was involved in the fight, this was his consequence. As a parent I do not condone this behavior, but I do understand it. We as parents must teach our children to understand risk. To ask a person who is in the middle of a chaotic fight, to judge if someone is no longer a threat is crazy. Any living organism naturally defends or flees a fights. A CHILD who is accustomed to defending himself from violence everyday loses that natural reaction of fight to flee. I remember my mindset when I lost my reaction to flee. It took years for it to come back. I was always willing to fight for my cause. Now, I understand that through understanding and dialogue, that fighting is always the last resort.

    These Children get tired of running because of the rep of the streets. It is sickening but our children only are learning from the people who have time for them, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and gang members. Our society is constantly creating more and more of these felons. We need to correct our educational system so that we can keep these children busy. These children should be in school longer hours and more days. But that costs way too much money. Really?

    December 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  49. CH(MAJ) Byung K. Min - U.S. Army Chaplain

    CH(MAJ) Byung K. Min
    It is great tragedy. Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death. Are we live in U.S.A. or gang land? What is the root problem of this kind of tragedy? You know what it is not just isolated place problem. We have to recognize that if no one start something to do change the environment, eventually, each individual will face same kind of tragedy.
    Hey brothers and sisters! We have to realize the fact and restore our family. They are too many broken family by irresponsible parents. The parents WAKE UP. If you are father, be a responsible father. Be a MAN. If you are mother, be a responsible mother. Whatever you are doing now, it will greatly affect to your children. Don’t be a loser parents. Be a example of your children. Life is tough. You know that. You just want to have a fun but don’t want to take any responsibility. That is wrong. Please don’t break your family. Don’t ruin your children’s future.
    This country was founded by great Christian legacy. That is our history. No one can change and deny the history. Read our history book. Why our ancestor came to this land? We have to restore our legacy. They are too many young people live without hope and vision of their lives. They just live – survive – day by day. Don’t you see any problem? Come on. We are human being. We are created by living God. We all have image of God. Don’t destroy image of God. Each and everyone is so precious being. You have to respect yourself and others as well. This is so wrong. America! Repent and come back to God.
    Disclaimer:
    “The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

    December 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  50. jona

    justbecause said:

    >>This is a typical liberal CNN attempt at blaming everyone else except the people/person at fault. They should have named this article. "how future felons begin"

    This is CNN's modus. This is how they operate. To them.. these are jsut "teens" They evade the issue.. the real issues while attempting to appear concerned as real investigators.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  51. Karen

    I saw this report about half an hour ago. I'm sorry, but this boy is a thug and if statistics are any indication, he will die young or spend his life in jail. I don't care about his lame excuses that he could only take so much. I don't know what will help his community. Generation after generation of teenage moms, schools that are powerless to help, men who abandon their responsiblities, etc. Nothing this child can say will make up for the young man's life. The report was hollow to me, almost an attempt at rationalization. This is sad, but until they have leaders (and CNN journalists) who encourage them to take responsibility for their actions, they'll be dead end for another several generations. Sad.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  52. Melissa

    What is missing from this story is relevant information about where these deaths and where the violence is occurring. It is not happening all over America – it is happening exactly where you would expect it to be happening, and among the people you would expect. You simply want to push yet another problem off the shoulders of those responsible and on to the public at large. We already pay – our taxes, our courts, our schools – all held hostage to the demands and deficiencies of people who are unable or unwilling to change and take responsibility for their own failures.
    The well of sympathy is beginning to run dry...

    December 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  53. Joe Smith

    Ashley
    You hit it right on the head. Once again where are the parents! No ware! It is the blind leading the Blind. Then once again it is the working class that has to pick up the broken parts and try to come up with away to fix the problem. I tried of doing it. Put all of them in jail for fighting for a very long time so that they can't have offspring to grow up and todo the same. DO YOU THINK T.J is going to be a good parent. Ibet he and his brother already has kid or two that he does nothing with. Good Job T.J.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  54. SLG

    If somebody attacked me with a two-by-four and by some miracle I managed to get it away from them and get them on the ground, you better believed I'd keep swinging until I was sure they weren't going to get up again. Have any of you people ever actually been in a fight? Been hit? Trust me–you'll do whatever it takes to defend yourself.

    Also, the people who have pointed out that this wouldn't be news if not for the death–I refuse to call it a murder–are 100% right. These fights happen all the time. As the interviewee said, "He hit him with a stick. It was a fight." And if the other kid had gotten up and dusted himself off and gone home with bruises, nobody would've cared. There were *considerably* more than four people involved in that brawl. Why are only the ones who happened to strike the boy who died being charged? Either all should be charged, or none should be charged. Any one of them could have killed someone. It's grossly unfair to charge the ones whose actions resulted in an unintended death and let all the others walk away free as if they did nothing wrong.

    And just in case you're curious, no, I'm not from that neighborhood, nor any neighborhood like it. I'm a white high school teacher in the rural South. Kids fight here, too. And here, just as there, the parents tell them to defend themselves if they are attacked. Who wouldn't? If you really think some "school official" is going to charge in on a white horse and save your kid from getting his head bashed in, think again. We call the cops and wait...and wait...and wait for them to show up.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  55. Cami

    This is a really sad story I understand the thought process of the teen. If you've ever been in any kind of fight then you understand that things can get out of hand really fast, and if all you see is someone or something swinging then you could easily a mistake. However the teens were in the wrong so they should be punished accordingly.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  56. rs1981

    I agree with Danyel. My parents use to spank my brother and I when we were out of line, and we both turned out fine. My brother is in the Navy working in the electronics field, and I myself am a receptionist in a body shop. I have nieces and nephews who got spanked when they misbehaved, and not one of them has become violent. The oldest one (he's 17) will be graduating from highschool in a few months time, and he's the sweetest kid you'll ever meet. There's no violence in him. Same with his siblings and cousins. My parents and their siblings got spanked when they misbehaved and none of them turned out violent. My mom has her own business, and her sisters have respectable jobs (one works at a medical center in radiology, one is a gov't employee, and one is now retired Air Force with a civilian job). My father is a truck driver, and his two late brothers (one of a heart attack, he used to be a county worker, the other from drug and alcohol overdose from what he saw in Vietnam). None of them had been thugs, and none of them thought it was right to beat on other people.
    My good friend is marrying a man who has a young son from his previous marriage. The father and mother did little to correct their son growing up, and he constantly mouths off to his father and future step mother. The future stepmother is doing the best she can to try to discipline the stepson, but the father doesn't do a whole lot to help out. Neither does the child's mother. If these kids had been disciplined a lot better, I'm willing to bet that this would never had happened.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  57. Tony

    Those who participate in these "gang" battles should be treated like the rabid animals they are and exterminated to stop the spread of the disease. Better yet, just put a huge fence and guards around these inner city zoos and let the animals kill each other off. Of course, all the bleeding-hearted liberals will tell us that we need to raise taxes and spend more money on useless endeavors such as midnight basketball leagues.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  58. Elaine

    How do i comment without sounding absurd myself?!... first of all if a picture is worth a thousand words...... A video would be considered two thousand... In the video footage that i saw, derron didn't seem to be involved at all... Maybe i need to clean my galsses.. Are u serious?... But i blame his parents because it has to come from somewhere... and 9 times out of 10 it starts at home... That mentality will only increase the death rate!!!! I have a son, and i love him with all my heart... but in no way would i or could i agree with him taking someones life.... it's senseless, its IGNORANT!!!!!!!!......

    December 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
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