Derrion Albert's Videographer: Snitch, Hero or Coward?

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary//Video, Various Authors Posted: Oct 05, 2009

Editor's Note: More than a thousand mourners came together yesterday at a Chicago church in the South Side to remember and honor Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old honor student who was beaten to death by young people with two-by-fours near school. Albert was allegedly killed because he resisted joining a gang to be formed near his school. His murder was caught on film. The footage resulted in four teenagers being charged with first-degree murder. We asked young men what they thought about the spectator who shot this footage.

A Coward: Why Didnít He Help Derrion Out?

I think that the guy who shot the video is a coward who should be prosecuted and charged with conspiracy. He watched the brutal murder and didnít intervene to stop it. If the boy who died was a family member of the guy who shot the video, the outcome would have been different. He had the guts to witness and even record an agonizing beating, but didn't have the heart to jump in and stop someone from killing this innocent boy. How can a person have no regard to human life? The footage also shows the determination those murderers had to accomplish something so terribly wrong. It was their ambition to kill Derrion, and they did. If they showed the same determination at school, to accomplish a task, these young people would end up in college, working towards a degree.

I think school violence has grown. Why? Perhaps because for many people, it pleases the eye to watch violence unfold.

-Tyrone Jones, 19



A Hero: Brings Awareness To Youth Violence

My initial reaction to the video footage was shock. I was informed the footage was violent but didn't think it would be that bad. In my opinion, the guy who shot the footage is a hero because he's shinning a light on youth violence, which is a problem that needs to be dealt with. It can be said that he acted with cowardliness and to a certain degree, I agree. He should have done something, whatever he could have done, and that effort might have saved that young man's life. I believe that filming an act of violence has put teen, school, and gang violence on a higher scale, but it shouldn't take a film to do that. A few violent events like these have been filmed and put on the Internet before. The act of filming violence has exposed police brutality in the past. The cases of Oscar Grant and Rodney King are examples. Many young people feel Obama will just flip what has been going on for the last number of years just because heís now in office. We have to remember that these types of changes take time and we must be patient. With budget cuts everywhere you turn, it doesn't seem like Obama has done anything, but in reality, he's trying to makes changes.

- Roland Ballard, 18


A Snitch Or A Coward: The Footage Is A Cry For Help

What I saw the video footage of the violence in Chicago, I thought, damn, that's crazy. I canít say too much because I see stuff like this happen all the time, but itís usually not as intense. Those kids are young products of their environment. They embrace such violent behavior under the pretext of just being from the hood. These kids donít know any better. Violence at school is stupid, period. If you partake in school violence, you're just asking to get caught and youíre only asking for someone to videotape your behavior, too.

Someone always sees violence when it goes down at schools, so itís both good and bad when captured on camera. Some people will view you as a hero while others will view you are a snitch. Now, if you choose to record a fight and keep the footage for yourself, that's cool. But when you videotape a murder, you have a difficult decision to make: will you submit the video for the sake of doing the right thing or will you delete it and pretend like nothing happened?

In the case of this boy who was murdered, it was bad for him because he was in grimey Chicago: the city of silence. He looked like a youngster who got the raw end of the stick. This type of violence happens: some die and some live. He was little, so he didnít have chance to fight and hang on. I witnessed the incident, even though I live out here, so that's what happens when you videotape footage of fights like this. Watching the film footage gives you a feel for what the victims of youth violence go through and what exactly goes down. Footage lets it be known that itís serious and dangerous out in the streets.

This footage is a cry for help by anyone who is willing to help young homeís, but Iím going to say locking young people up for life is not going to help. These young men need help.

- Amanze Emenike, 20

A Snitch: No Need To Record Fights

This guy is a snitch. People die all the time in gang fights. I mean, itís a big deal, but I see fights all the time. They might not be as brutal as this one, but Iíve seen some pretty violent fights. Even when Iím in a fight, thereís always the option that something can go really wrong and one of us-myself or the person Iím fighting-dies by accident. When you live in the ghetto, outsiders come through while shooting and if someone pops at you, youíre going to bust back. These kids in the video footage were using 2x4 wooden blocks as bats to strike each other. I donít think the kid with the video camera realized someone was going to die when he started filming. These fighting fights happen a lot near schools.

If I were watching this fight in Chicago, I never would have pulled out my phone to record it only because Iím not a snitch.

- Chris Vargas, 20

A Coward: Why Didnít He Call The Police?

I was completely outraged by the video footage. The man who filmed the act of violence should be questioned about why he didnít notify police or why he didn't try to break the fight up. I saw many people just standing around, but nobody was calling for help. Some people say that police wouldnít have came in time anyway, but that may not be true. If nobody bothered to call the police, how would we really know this fight happened?

Due to poor judgment of the victimís, a young man was beaten and killed. Cars were driving by, people were crowded around the fight, and there was a young man filming the whole thing. The community spectators of the fight are the ones to blame because nobody forced the students to stop fighting. Thatís a lesson for everywhere to learn from: If you see someone in danger, you take action: call authorities, look for help and if there are enough people, break the altercation up.

Filming violence at schools may help in certain situations, but Iím concerned that people might be doing more watching than helping, especially when watching behind the lens. This fight was serious: it resulted in a homicide, not just a bloody nose or a black eye. I even heard a voice on the video footage which encouraged the man who was filming to zoom in on the fight. He didnít have enough time to notify the police, but he had enough time to zoom in, huh?

When it comes to film footage of violence, we need to distinguish between good publicity and bad publicity. I think the man who filmed this violence is a hero because his footage shows someone was killed in this fight. But I still think people should take more time to break up acts of violence rather than just filming it. Filming a particular act doesnít stop it from happening.

Rest in peace Derrion Albert.

- Sean Shavers, 18



Not A Hero or A Coward: He Deserves An Award!

At first, I was excited to see this footage because I like to watch fights. The fight was cool cause the young people were just throwing fist and that's how a fight should be. But when they started picking up 2-by-4ís, that's when it got serious. The dude who died shouldíve been smarter, though I heard he was on the honor roll. If you see someone pick up a weapon, you better get out of there. If he ran, he might have lived. I feel bad for the guy who died because after he got hit, he was clearly hurt. He was lying on floor and people kept stomping on him.

In a fight somebody is going to get hurt; this young man, Derrion, happen to be the victim. The person who videotaped this fight isnít a hero or a coward: he was just a cameraman. If he didn't tape this, who knows if someone would be caught for participating in this act of violence? The cameraman should get a reward! He helped in a lot of ways because now this footage brings more attention to school and gang violence.

Now more people might know about violence among young people, but I donít know if the act of filming it makes any difference because people still get hurt every day. Nothing is going to change if everyone just sits around and watches film footage of violence. In fact, filming violence might make it happen even more, because people like to watch fights.

- David Cunningham, 19


A Hero Or A Snitch: Filming Fights Isn't New

To have this happen so close to a school on a street makes me wonder why none of the adults didnít jump out of a car to help or stop the fighting. It led me to believe that the reason there wasnít any nearby adults willing stop this was because that part of town is used to seeing teenagers throw fists while hitting each other with wooden planks. Even though my city of San Jose is miles away from Chicago, this kind of thing for many teens is pretty unavoidable these days.

There are a lot of high school students I know who would go out of their way just to go attend a scheduled fight between a couple guys. Most of the time there is a cameraman, whether its planned or someone in the crowd who uses their phone video camera.

The teen filming this video raises questions: is he a hero for capturing this, given that people may be facing justice as a result? Or is he a coward for not helping to stop the violence?

What I want to know is, how was Derrion involved? Some say he was aimed at for his denial towards the gangís offer to recruit him. Others say he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, the gang saw him as a dazed wonderer amidst the fight, so they went for the weakest in order to get their point across.

Iím not sure if the person who filmed this fight realized it would escalate so fast. I do believe he or anyone else had the voice and power to pull together enough people to step in and steer the fight away from Derrion.

This trend of filming fights has gotten pretty big, and itís no surprise that teens consider this as pure entertainment. From brutal underground videos like ďbumfightsĒ to the mixed martial arts of the UFC, watching fighting is extremely commonly-practiced and sought-after activity.

Jim Osiakowski, 19



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User Comments


a on Oct 09, 2009 at 19:49:22 said:

This breaks my heart


kb on Oct 06, 2009 at 17:35:53 said:

There sre two sides to every story and it started as if you guys were downing the guy taping. He did have some strange words as video went. My thing, parents are making sure their kids have phones these days, so I am sure there was about twenty other phones around. I do not think you should complain about the person taping but some of the others standing and looking and riding by blowing their horns. The person taping has done more than anyone else in crime like this, he gave the video and I know some of these kids know who they are looking at. It would not be a snitch, it would taking terror of the streets. Your little brother and sister have go to school and these and others like these need to come off the streets. Their parents fail them as small children, by not teaching them respect. The people that need to be seeing these comments will not and the people who do see them will have nothing to say to them, understandable. Like you, my kids were taught respect and my grandkids are being taught, that doesn't much except it is in their minds. Nothing is prefect but some small things help.


MIchael H. on Oct 06, 2009 at 17:27:27 said:

Are these statements in the article real? Aside from some of them being borderline criminal, most of them are just grammatically horrible. Even the more 'thoughtful' ones sound like they had been written or spoken by middle schoolers from poor schools. To see that these are made by individuals of 18 years and older is sad.
And the Vargas person sounds like a real criminal.
And to the first poster: How the hell can the cameraman be charged with conspiracy? Do you even know what that means?


MIchael H. on Oct 06, 2009 at 17:00:41 said:

Are these statements in the article real? Aside from some of them being borderline criminal, most of them are just grammatically horrible. Even the more 'thoughtful' ones sound like they had been written or spoken by middle schoolers from poor schools. To see that these are made by individuals of 18 years and older is sad.
And the Vargas person sounds like a real criminal.
And to the first poster: How the hell can the cameraman be charged with conspiracy? Do you even know what that means?


rick on Oct 06, 2009 at 13:44:45 said:

i watch the video over and over and the boy that hit the big dude with the 2 by 4, is the same one that hit derrion at the end, my question is the friend he helped, where was he at when derrion was knocked out the 1st time and the camera person thought this was funny seeing a boy get beat to death so him and his lady should be locked up to, they so her face at the end. r i p derrion


lisi hodges on Oct 06, 2009 at 09:43:34 said:

That's why I left chicago in the late 1990's. I don't understand why an entire city can be so full of hatred,jealousy and envy. Most african american and hispanics in the city of Chicago have no concern or value for their lives so why would they care about a strangers life? Poor children that have to be brought up in that type of environment, especially when they are getting off their asses trying to get an education. Heads -up, its all gang related.


Keisha on Oct 06, 2009 at 01:52:11 said:

My prayers go out to this young boys family. May God bless him in the heavens above. I not form chicago and i know nothing about derrion's family but this video brouhgt me to tears and I hope that whoever you are that you turn your self in. What if it were your family. May God bless this family. I know that he will(With much love- Keisha)


Raven Smith on Oct 05, 2009 at 18:45:21 said:

It does not matter what I, orthe next person thinks or says. the fact of the matter is that what happened was WRONG and GOD will deal with them all accordinglly. And for all the people that think this is funny, that think they are bad becasue they are in a gang or whatever, the ones that are posting thier "comments" on youtube ... Well you are just as pathetic as the ignorant people that commited the crime against this young man, and may GOD have merrcy on ALL of you! :)


Debra Raye on Oct 05, 2009 at 18:19:45 said:

I think the guy who filmed the fight was doing it for entertaiment purposes. In my opinion, he was a spectator. I heard a lot of people saying that Derrion was caught in the middle of the fight. After looking at the video more than enough times, it shows that Derrion walked towards the guys that were doing the fighting. Some say he was going to help a friend. I can't really say. We all have an inner voice that warns us of danger. Sometimes we take heed to it and sometimes we ignore it. I have said to myself over and over again, why did Derrion walk into the fight? I wish he would have just stayed across the street on the other side, or just went on home. He did not deserve to die though; especially the way he died. I often wonder why did everybody wait until after the damage was done before calling for help. I feel like the guy who was filming it, should've been dialing 911 instead of filming it. I also heard a female's voice saying Zoom In, Get closer...that was when Derrion was being stomped and beaten with those boards the second time around. One thing I know for sure, everyone that stood by and watched as if it were a movie or something, will never forget that day. They are gonna always have questions in their minds about why they stood by and watch a young boy get killed and didnt do anything to call for help unless they ask God's forgiveness. Those that stood by and watched and didn't call for help are also murderers in a sense. I guess everyone must have thought it would be just a plain old fight. Nobody was expecting Derrion to die that day. To sum it all up, the dude is a stone cold coward for filming it instead of calling 911...


green on Oct 05, 2009 at 17:27:00 said:

This is so sad.....That's one of the many reason I left Chicago, my heart goes out to his family,it is a good thing that all of this was caught on tape but i do feel that the cameraman should have done something there's no way in hell I could have stood there and let them beat that boy to death like that....

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