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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 Didnt 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 didnt 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 hes 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 cant say too much because I see stuff like this happen all the time, but its 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 dont know any better. Violence at school is stupid, period. If you partake in school violence, you're just asking to get caught and youre only asking for someone to videotape your behavior, too.

Someone always sees violence when it goes down at schools, so its 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 didnt 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 its serious and dangerous out in the streets.

This footage is a cry for help by anyone who is willing to help young homes, but Im 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, its a big deal, but I see fights all the time. They might not be as brutal as this one, but Ive seen some pretty violent fights. Even when Im in a fight, theres always the option that something can go really wrong and one of us-myself or the person Im fighting-dies by accident. When you live in the ghetto, outsiders come through while shooting and if someone pops at you, youre going to bust back. These kids in the video footage were using 2x4 wooden blocks as bats to strike each other. I dont 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 Im not a snitch.

- Chris Vargas, 20

A Coward: Why Didnt 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 didnt 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 wouldnt 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 victims, 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. Thats 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 Im 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 didnt 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 doesnt 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-4s, that's when it got serious. The dude who died shouldve 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 isnt 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 dont 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 didnt jump out of a car to help or stop the fighting. It led me to believe that the reason there wasnt 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 gangs 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.

Im 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 its no surprise that teens consider this as pure entertainment. From brutal underground videos like bumfights 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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