WBEZ | Derrion Albert http://www.wbez.org/tags/derrion-albert Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Restoring Roseland: Confronting violence with peaceful practices http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130412_Restorative Justice 1_ko.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 500 homicides were reported in the city of Chicago last year: 361 of the victims were African-American males; 220 were between the ages of 15 and 24.</p><p>In the fall of 2009, Christian Fenger High School became national news after violence took one of its own. A short while later, the school implemented a program that aims to squash America&rsquo;s culture of violence. It&rsquo;s called restorative justice, and for Fenger, it came after a particularly gruesome death.</p><p>One September afternoon, a fight stemming from an earlier gang-related shooting erupted just blocks from the school. Amateur video of the mob-like brawl showed dozens of people hurling punches, kicks, bottles and bricks at one another. Sophomore Derrion Albert was killed. He was the third Chicago Public School student killed, just a few weeks into the school year.</p><p>Senior Gerald Banks was a class behind Albert. He remembered always being on edge his freshman year. Banks recalled news cameras parked outside of the school every morning and fights every day.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody had their backs turned, making sure nobody was going to swing,&rdquo; Banks remembered.</p><p>Fenger&#39;s Culture and climate specialist Robert Spicer arrived at the school just two weeks before Albert&rsquo;s death. He referred to Albert&rsquo;s death as rock bottom, noting that the school had well over 375 arrests that year.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of these young people out here shooting and do all that stuff, they don&rsquo;t want to do this,&quot; Spicer explained.&nbsp;&quot;They don&rsquo;t want to carry a gun. But they feel forced to&mdash;because they feel like nobody out here is going to protect them so they have to protect themselves. So the only way they can be heard and respected is if they carry a gun. That&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Fenger needed a new approach&mdash;which is exactly what Spicer was brought there to do; and so he started implementing restorative justice.</p><p>Restorative justice is a philosophy that centers around relationships and trust. It seeks to address the needs of the victim, the wrongdoer and the community. It&rsquo;s also about healing: dressing the wounds many of these children leave raw and bare. The ones that eat at them until they&rsquo;re overcome.&nbsp;</p><p>He saw an opportunity for Fenger to be the game changers to, as he put it, &ldquo;show our society that it&rsquo;s possible to go into an urban environment, introduce these practices and be able to bring civility and sanity back into that school, any school.&rdquo;</p><p>Part of this process takes place in the peace room, just down the hall from the Fenger&rsquo;s main office. There, on the floor, in the middle of the room, is a black and white mat. On it rests &rdquo;talking pieces&rdquo; objects of significance to Spicer and the seniors who serve as peer jurors and help lead peace circles. The pieces are things like stuffed animals, a rain stick, a tree stump...when a member of the circle holds the talking piece, it&rsquo;s their time to talk.</p><p>The peace room is where stakeholders in a conflict can come together to have a summit of sorts. Last week, a group of freshman girls gathered there after gossip got a little too close to a fight. With a potential 10-day suspension on the horizon, Spicer rerouted the girls to a peace circle.</p><p>Spicer told them that the circle was their time to be real. Their time to say what was on their minds. Because, as he put it, no one else was going to give them the time&mdash;not the dean and certainly not the real world.</p><p>&ldquo;You know this is not a game,&quot; Spicer warned.&nbsp;&quot;You know what&rsquo;s waiting for you if you decide to take your attitude and go out here and do stupid, silly stuff&mdash;they ready to send you right up out of here. And that world out there, as cold as it is...it&rsquo;s even colder without an education.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>That&rsquo;s the meat and potatoes right there: The object of the game is to get kids back in class. Because a kid with an education is much more likely to survive.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People who drop out from high school are much more likely to become gang-involved than those (who) do not. And we know that a very, very important predictor of graduating high school is being able to ready by third grade,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/TMeares.htm" target="_blank">Tracey Meares</a>, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, explained.</p><p>Meares&rsquo; research focuses on crime prevention strategies. She spent a great deal of time looking at the city of Chicago, particularly areas of high crime and poverty.</p><p>Meares subscribes to the idea that violence should be treated like a public health issue, more specifically, like a blood-born pathogen. Therefore the best violence-reduction strategy, as Meares described it, is to identify the people who are central to the network of crime, who occupy important places in densely connected networks, and to intervene to try to get them to stop engaging in violence.</p><p>Almost four years into Fenger&rsquo;s philosophical switch, the rate of freshman on track to graduate rose to between 75 and 85 percent, from around 40. Arrests at school were down. So why not put a peace room in every school?</p><p><a href="http://umojacorporation.org/leadership/staff/ilana-zafran/" target="_blank">Ilana Zafran</a> helps implement restorative justice programs in partner schools around Chicago. She said the biggest problem is patience. People want immediate results but changing a culture and restorative justice takestime.</p><p>The other criticism, Zafran explained, is that people want those who have wronged them to be held accountable. Or more intimately, when confronted, to admit their error and apologize. But, she said, sometimes people aren&rsquo;t ready to admit wrongdoing. And that can be hard.</p><p>Back at Fenger, after the talking piece had been round the circle a few times, one of the freshman girls echoed Meares&rsquo; earlier point.</p><p>She explained that while she might be &ldquo;the coolest, funniest short person you know,&rdquo; if someone had a problem with her, she&rsquo;d just avoid them. Because, she shared, her friend&rsquo;s cousin was shot and killed over some &lsquo;he-said-she-said stuff&rsquo;&mdash;and if her friend had been there, she&rsquo;d be gone too. And she wasn&rsquo;t about to lose her life over something as small as all that. She wanted to be sure the group knew, for her, the situation was over. And asked them to let it go.</p><p>The hope is that young people can learn to let go. That they can squash things before they escalate, before someone raises a hand or a gun. Or that they share senior Ana Muniz&rsquo;s philosophy on fighting.</p><p>&ldquo;You need two people to fight&mdash;I&rsquo;m not available. I&rsquo;m never available. If you want to talk,&rdquo; Muniz clarified, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m available to talk.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Muniz, who was raised in Mexico, said she already took the lessons she&rsquo;s learned to her family back home. She convened peace circles at her younger sister&rsquo;s school. The hope is that peace circles continue to expand and that what&rsquo;s happening at Fenger will continue to create ripples of peace.</p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.5029294477684348"><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">@katieobez</a></em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651 Man sentenced to 32 years for beating caught on video http://www.wbez.org/story/beating-death/man-sentenced-32-years-beating-caught-video-84208 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-24/AP090928081554.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A judge has sentenced a Chicago man to 32 years in prison in the fatal beating of a high school honors student that was caught on video.</p><p>Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Ford sentenced 20-year-old Silvonus Shannon today for his role in the September 2009 beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert. Shannon asked Derrion's family to forgive him. But the boy's mother, Anjanette Albert, said there was no way she could forgive Shannon. The judge said he gave Shannon a longer sentence because Albert was defenseless on the ground when Shannon struck him.</p><p>Shannon was convicted in January.</p><p>Two teens have also been convicted in Albert's death and two others still face charges in the attack, which drew widespread condemnation when the video of the street brawl was posted online.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 24 Mar 2011 20:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/beating-death/man-sentenced-32-years-beating-caught-video-84208 Teen gets 26 years in beating case http://www.wbez.org/story/beating-death/teen-gets-26-years-beating-case <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/shackles_getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A judge in Chicago has handed down a 26-year sentence for a teen who pleaded guilty to participating in the beating death of a high school honor student that was caught on video.</p><p>Seventeen-year-old Eric Carson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2009 death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert.</p><p>The Chicago Tribune reports that Carson wept in court Friday as he said goodbye to his family. The sentence was part of an agreement with prosecutors.</p><p>Carson was 16 at the time of the attack. He was seen on the video hitting Albert on the back of the head with a large board. Albert was then beaten and stomped by several other teens.</p><p>Two other defendants have been convicted in Albert's death, and two others await trial.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 18:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/beating-death/teen-gets-26-years-beating-case The Derrion Albert verdict: Was justice served? http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/derrion-albert-verdict-was-justice-served <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/derrion.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="301" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-13/derrion.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>No one can have been surprised by the verdict in the Silvanus Shannon case, not after a jury last month returned the exact same result for another defendant, an unnamed minor, in less than half an hour of deliberations: guilty of the first degree murder of Derrion Albert.</p><p>This time it took 3 and a half hours for the jury to decide that Shannon killed Albert with malice, deliberately and intentionally, and with extreme disregard for human life. He had stomped repeatedly on Albert&rsquo;s head after Albert had been knocked helplessly to the ground in a melee on 115th Street, not far from the Agape Community Center in Roseland. Shannon covered his face and cried in court when he heard his fate.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t for a minute think that Eric Carson, Eugene Riley and Lapoleon Colbert&mdash;the others awaiting trial for this monstrous crime&mdash;will get anything less. The video tape evidence against them&mdash;as in Shannon&rsquo;s case&mdash;is simply overwhelming. In Riley&rsquo;s case, even his mother has already identified him on the tape. &quot;That's Gene. That's my son,&quot; Sherry Smith told the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> shortly after the crime. &quot;I'm not going to lie about that.&quot;</p><p>And so there is a certain satisfaction, in spite of the sadness over lives lost in so many ways, in knowing that justice is playing out in this case, and that someone is being held rightfully responsible for this almost feral killing.</p><p>That the <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/video_derrion_albert">tape</a> is so vivid and unambiguous, in spite of Shannon&rsquo;s lawyers pleadings to the contrary and his own memory loss, is also a relief. We see that for what it is: a strategy, desperate even, to draw sympathy for Shannon, looking dazed with his mouth agape, to perhaps give him a kinder sentence. (Shannon&rsquo;s lawyer insists he jumped over Albert&rsquo;s body but did not land on him: the tape is blurred at the moment of impact but Shannon jumps straight up and down.)</p><p>But the devil&mdash;the devil is in the details. And that devil haunts me every single time I read about or attend this trial or watch the video . Because there are things in the accepted narrative that chafe.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s be clear: Derrion Albert did not deserve to die. But Derrion Albert, who lived neither in The Ville or Altgeld Gardens&nbsp; (the warring factions) but in a neutral area called 12-3, should have never been there in the first place. The fight had been rumored all day at school&mdash;it was, in fact, common knowledge at Fenger High School. And Derrion Albert was not a bystander on his way home when he got attacked.</p><p>While that didn&rsquo;t help Shannon, and it won&rsquo;t help the three awaiting trial whose acts are undeniable on the tape, it should have helped the unnamed minor who was convicted last month.</p><p>If the evidence of our eyes works to convict Silvanus Shannon, then it should also should have worked to give that unidentified minor a break.</p><p>Look closely at the video: Albert enters the frame at about 44 seconds. And he is walking <em>toward</em>, not away, from the ruckus. In fact, he is walking into the very heart of the riot, where young men are already wielding railroad ties and bashing the hell out of each other. His book bag is nowhere in sight. And his stride is purposeful. Then he either throws or deflects a punch.</p><p>It&rsquo;s 2 seconds later, as he&rsquo;s turning around&mdash;not running away but turning <em>into the brawl</em>&mdash;that he&rsquo;s hit square on the left side of the head with a railroad tie. The blow is powerful enough to knock Albert off his feet. But he gets up, clearly dazed, and, 2 seconds after that, the unidentified minor punches him, again on the left side of the head. Albert falls and curls into a fetal position. (At about 1:08 on the tape, he sits up but is quickly descended upon by a trio of young men and, seconds later, Shannon is seen jumping on his head.)</p><p>Why is this important? The Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Howroyd said the defendant&mdash;the minor&mdash;&ldquo;signed Derrion Albert's death certificate&quot; with that punch and &quot;put Derrion in a position he could never recover from.&quot;</p><p>Except that what is clear on the tape is that what put Derrion Albert in a vulnerable position was the blow on the head from the railroad tie, and what he never recovered from was Shannon&rsquo;s kicking. Up until then, Albert kept coming back, struggling to stand, to sit up, to crawl. Derrion Albert did not go down easily.</p><p>Dr. Hilary McElligot, the pathologist who conducted Albert&rsquo;s autopsy, refused to pinpoint the unidentified minor&rsquo;s punch as Albert&rsquo;s death knell. What she said was that it was impossible to tell which blow killed Albert, but that all contributed to his death.</p><p>There is little doubt about that: the youngster&rsquo;s hit, a flying punch to Albert&rsquo;s already injured head, surely caused additional damage. And it&rsquo;s very, very possible that kid, like Albert and so many of the others on 115th Street that day, also knew about the fight and was there with purpose.</p><p>But we&rsquo;ll never know because the young man&rsquo;s lawyer, Richard Kloak, did not call a single witness on his behalf. Not a friend, a relative, a teacher, a social worker, an eyewitness to the crime or the boy himself. No one.</p><p>So now, technically, the boy will be kept in prison until he&rsquo;s 21&mdash;unless he commits <em>any kind</em> of infraction, and then his sentence will likely turn into a lifetime. And what purpose will that serve?</p><p>Yes, the murder of Derrion Albert was horrific. And those who committed it should pay. That includes this unidentified minor. But first degree murder, the possibility of life in prison? I don&rsquo;t think so, not for what he did: Remember, he was a 14 year-old in the middle of a riot who threw one punch. He needs a decent review and appeal (and a new lawyer -- if his lawyer had fought half as hard as Shannon's, that boy might have a chance at rehabilitation, counseling, serious help).</p><p>Just look for yourself&mdash;put the media hoopla aside and trust the evidence of your own eyes.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 06:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/derrion-albert-verdict-was-justice-served Fifteen-year-old convicted in beating death of Fenger student http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/fifteen-year-old-convicted-beating-death-fenger-student <p><p>A Chicago jury has convicted a 15-year-old boy of first-degree murder in the beating death of a high school honor student that was captured on video and seen around the world.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about half an hour Wednesday. Prosecutors had rested their case earlier in the day and defense attorneys declined to call any witnesses after two days of testimony.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>The teen, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, was one of five people charged in the beating death of 16-year-old Fenger High School student Derrion Albert during a mob brawl. The teen's attorney said the boy hit Albert but that it didn't cause the other teen's death.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>A pathologist said the single punch contributed to the student's death.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 21:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/fifteen-year-old-convicted-beating-death-fenger-student Study looks at how South Side adolecents cope with violence http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/study-looks-how-south-side-adolecents-cope-violence <p><p>In &quot;Eight&nbsp;Forty-Eight's&quot; new series, <em>Mayor Mondays</em>, the show explores life in Chicago, how it&rsquo;s changed under Mayor Richard M. Daley and how it will change under new leadership. Over the past few weeks, &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; talked about food and health. This week, it's focusing on crime.</p><p>Jury selection in the trial of one of the teens charged in the beating death of 17-year-old Derrion Albert begins Monday. A 14 year old is one of the accused charged with murdering Albert. Chicago made national and international news for that and other high-profile crimes involving young people recently. While youth violence continues to rip some neighborhoods apart, not a whole lot is known about how young people cope with violence.</p><p>So that&rsquo;s exactly what <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/faculty/d-voisin.shtml">Dexter Voisin</a> from the University of Chicago set out to study two years ago; his findings are out now in &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://jiv.sagepub.com/">The Journal of Interpersonal Violence</a>.&quot;</p><p>Voisin is an associate professor at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/">University of Chicago&rsquo;s School of Social Service Administration</a> and he joined &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; to discuss his new study looking at how black youth on the South Side cope with community violence.<br /><br /><em>Music Button: We Were the States, &quot;Intro,&quot; from the release Rasa</em></p></p> Mon, 06 Dec 2010 15:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/study-looks-how-south-side-adolecents-cope-violence One year later: Where are the kids from the Derrion Albert beating now? http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/09/one-year-later-where-are-the-kids-from-the-derrion-albert-beating-now/37701 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-October/2010-10-26/wall.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//2010-0151.jpg"><img style="width: 484px; height: 362px;" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-37705" title="2010 015" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//2010-0151-1024x768.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>Room 702 at the courthouse at 26<sup>th</sup> and California has a panoramic view of Cook County jail facilities: block brick buildings, guard posts, barbed wire in circles. On the wet, grey morning of September 16, lawyers mill about casually, occasionally joking, flipping through papers. A couple of Derrion Albert&rsquo;s family members sit on the west end of the third bench from the front, with lawyers coming and going before them, giving them updates on the day&rsquo;s wrangling.</p> <p>But for them, the courtroom is quiet and spare, with less than a score of spectators. Inevitably, they walk out to the hallway, look out the windows at the end of hall to the broad expanse of white clouds and penitentiary, then idle back inside.</p> <p>After almost two hours of whispers and lolling, the judge appears and five teenage boys are brought before him. They wear Department of Correction uniforms, hold their hands in front of their bodies, fingers laced in submission.</p> <p>One of them, Silvonus Shannon, cranes his neck to look at out at the courtroom, perhaps hoping for recognition or connection. He walks standing straight and without pause. Eric Carson and Eugene Riley shuffle in, indifferent or defiant or insecure, with a truncated swagger. A fourth boy, presumably Napoleon Colbert, keeps his eyes on the floor. A fifth defendant, an unidentified minor, trails them.</p> <p>The hearing lasts merely minutes, a continuation extended for October 4<sup>th</sup>. &nbsp;The utter banality of the proceedings underscores the ordinariness of their alleged crime, the beating death of 16 year-old Derrion Albert in broad daylight a year ago today, September 24.</p> <p>The killing was captured on video by a passerby, and was repeatedly aired all over the world, provoking outrage and political promises.</p> <p>But in the year since Albert, an honors student at Fenger High School, was murdered on 111<sup>th</sup> Street, there have been 19 similar murders in Roseland alone. In the year immediately before Albert was pummeled to death, there were 22.</p> <p>At Fenger, a huge red brick citadel where students pass through metal detectors to get to class, this has been Peace Week. The culmination is today, when students have the day off. The school, which takes up a full city block, is watched over at any given moment by a handful or more of uniformed cops. They&rsquo;re as common a sight as the occasional &ldquo;Snitches Get Stitches&rdquo; t-shirts worn by young men who loiter just outside the school&rsquo;s perimeters.</p> <p>The spot on which Albert was killed &ndash; where a memorial was raised then burned within days &ndash; is graffiti&rsquo;d with the words &ldquo;Love RIP&rdquo; and two Os or footprints. It&rsquo;s in a gravel lot about 10 blocks from Fenger, next to the Agape Community Center, and across from a couple of single family homes and the St. Mary Church of Prayer, a squat storefront with barely a sign of life. About a block west, the Pentecostal Temple boasts &ldquo;God is Real&rdquo; on its marquee. The area houses are sweet, cozy, some more stately than others, a few boarded up and foreclosed. The Agape sits among them like a concrete fortress, with no windows out onto the street, its name obscured by trees. It&rsquo;s here that Albert&rsquo;s mangled body was dragged after he was repeatedly kicked and punched by other teens.</p> <p>On the video &ndash; caught on a cell phone and thus erratic and noisy &ndash; Albert is seen walking up to the gravel lot on a clear and pale day then savagely struck by a railroad tie. As soon as he recovers, he&rsquo;s punched and falls again. There&rsquo;s screaming, chaos, a handful of young men facing each other off in the middle of the street. A voice can be heard screaming, &ldquo;Derrion, get up!&rdquo;</p> <p>What&rsquo;s not on the video is a thunderstruck young man named Jeremiah Sterling, another Fenger student, watching the madness, reaching to help Albert up from the ground.</p> <p>Ten months later, just about a mile straight west, Jeremiah Sterling would become yet another victim of violence, shot dead on a sunny Chicago summer afternoon.</p></p> Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/aobejas/2010/09/one-year-later-where-are-the-kids-from-the-derrion-albert-beating-now/37701