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Pres. Obama's Campus Uproar; First Lady's First Commencement; House Speaker Accused of Lying; Deadliest School Year in Chicago

Aired May 16, 2009 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

Tonight, while the president and the first lady crisscrossed the country offering encouraging words to college graduates, their hometown of Chicago is in crisis.

Before they can even to get to college, children who attend public schools there are being violently murdered in record numbers. So in this season of pomp and circumstance, not focusing on this story would be a crime in itself.

But let's start with graduation day right on. President Obama heads to Notre Dame tomorrow. One of the nation's most prestigious universities. It's also, of course, a Catholic university. And the school's decision to invite a president who favors abortion rights and award him an honorary degree is sparking protests on and off campus.

More protesters were arrested just today. And our Susan Candiotti is attending tomorrow's big event.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours before arguably the biggest day of their college career, Notre Dame seniors some in caps and gowns, spent Saturday showing family and friends around campus. Some posed for pictures after pre-graduation celebrations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really excited to see Obama. And yes, just really happy to graduate finally.

CANDIOTTI: Among protesters off campus, no excitement over the president's visit, only promises from an activist to, quote, "ruin it." Anti-abortion protesters prayed the rosary, some ignored warnings to keep off Notre Dame property resulting in nearly 20 arrests for trespassing. A plane hired daily by activist towing a picture of an aborted fetus won't be allowed during Mr. Obama's trip, thanks to normal presidential security restrictions. Some Notre Dame students agree with these protesters message, but not the way they are spreading it.

CHRIS LABADIE, NOTRE DAME SENIOR: It's not going to convince us. All it's doing is detracting from the debate that we're having here on campus. CANDIOTTI: For students boycotting commencement, there will be a prayer service at Notre Dame's famous grotto. Thousands nationwide argue that Catholic university dishonors itself by honoring a pro- choice, pro-stem cell research president. But Notre Dame calls Mr. Obama an inspiring leader.

DENNIS BROWN, NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY SPOKESMAN: We have many causes in common. And we will recognize those, but we also recognize that we don't share common ground when it comes to life issues.

CANDIOTTI: A Quinnipiac University poll shows a majority of all Catholic voters agree by 60 percent to 34 percent the president should speak at Notre Dame's graduation. Numbers mirrored when Protestants were asked the same question. When pollsters asked Catholics who said they go to mass regularly, the margin got much closer 49 percent to 43 percent.

You can't win every person in every respect, in every battle. And so, look at where you can find commonalities. Because fighting and dividing things into two are never going to help solve a problem.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): But will there be a problem during the president's speech? Impossible to predict, but student protesters say they don't plan to disrupt anything. Anti-abortion activists gathering off campus are making no such guarantees.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, South Bend, Indiana.


LEMON: All right, Susan. Well, CNN will bring you the president's commencement address at Notre Dame tomorrow, live 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 11:00 p.m. Pacific.

Well, First Lady Michelle Obama is also delivering a commencement address this weekend. Today, she spoke to the first graduating class at the University of California Merced, a campus that opened in 2005. And where students started a letter writing and video campaign to get her attention.

Well, the first lady urged graduates to give back to their communities, and to give thanks to those who made their success possible. Here's a portion of what she said.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I grew up in one of those communities with similar values, like Merced, the southside of Chicago is a community where people struggled financially, but worked hard, looked out for each other and rallied around their children.

My father was a blue-collar worker as you all know. My mother stayed at home to raise me and my brother. We were the first to graduate from college in our immediate family.


I know that many of you out here are also the first in your families to achieve that distinction as well.


And as you know, being the first is often a big responsibility.


LEMON: As you can see, it was mostly a positive speech. But the first lady also had some critical comments for the University of Chicago, and what she says was its lack of participation in her neighborhood when she was a child.


OBAMA: I grew up just a few miles from the University of Chicago in my hometown. The university, like most institutions, was a major cultural economic institution in my neighborhood. My mother even worked as a secretary there for several years. Yet that university never played a meaningful role in my academic development. The institution made no effort to reach out to me, a bright and promising student in their midst, and I had no reason to believe there was a place for me there. Therefore, when it came time for me to apply to college, I never for one second considered the university in my own backyard as a viable option.


LEMON: Well, meantime, in Washington, D.C., President Obama today surprised more than a few politicos when he reached across party lines nominating a moderate Republican governor for U.S. ambassador to China.

Jon Huntsman is in his second and final term as Utah's governor. He served as national co-chairman of John McCain's presidential campaign, and he's even been mentioned as a potential challenger to Obama in 2012.


GOV. JOHN HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: I grew up understanding that the most basic responsibility one has is service to country. When the president of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that, to me, is the end of the conversation and the beginning of the obligation.


LEMON: Few more things about Governor Huntsman. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and he once served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan.

Washington is still buzzing this weekend about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and so is the rest of the nation. It is the issue that won't go away. Her efforts to explain what she knew about the government's use of harsh interrogation techniques. Well, today on the National Mall, one of her Republican predecessors simply accused her of lying.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think that the fact that Leon Panetta, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, a former Democratic member of Congress and President Clinton's chief-of- staff, issued such a strong, clear statement yesterday, puts enormous pressure on the House to open a formal investigation.

It seems to me that on her press conference on Thursday that Speaker Pelosi lied on two counts. She lied first about the specific meeting and then she defamed every person in the intelligence community by asserting that the CIA routinely misinformed Congress.


LEMON: Well, Nancy Pelosi's remarks have breathed new life into the controversy, and now even the CIA director is speaking out.

CNN's Tom Foreman tells us where the story came from and where it is headed.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Someone is not telling the whole truth, but who? Trying to track that down starts with a briefing the CIA gave to Representative Pelosi in the fall of 2002.

As a leader of the intelligence committee, she insists she was misled in that meeting about when or even if harsh interrogation techniques were used against suspected terrorists, including Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Those briefings made in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

FOREMAN: "No way." That is the sentiment from President Obama's own CIA director and Pelosi's fellow California Democrat, Leon Panetta, in a note to his staff obtained by CNN.

"Let me be clear, it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. Our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed."

Pelosi has admitted for the first time this week she was told about the so-called torture techniques back in 2003, but said nothing because of secrecy rules.

It is all feeding a Republican frenzy. They see Pelosi tarring Bush officials over the interrogations, but ducking her own culpability. The latest to pile on, former Speaker Newt Gingrich on ABC Radio.

GINGRICH: I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I have seen in my lifetime.

FOREMAN: And at once trying to do damage control and turn up the heat on others, the speaker issued a late statement, saying in part, "My criticism of the manner in which the Bush administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep other country safe."

(on camera): Still, she remains caught between Republicans who are accusing her of hypocrisy and some of other own Democrats, who are wondering why if Nancy Pelosi believed for six years America was torturing prisoners, she did not sound the alarm.

Who's not telling the truth? We still don't know for sure, but it feels like we're getting closer.

Tom foreman, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: Stay tuned.

A crisis on the streets of Chicago. Children at the center of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering why we are not out in the street crying and screaming and beside ourselves.


LEMON: 36 children, 36, killed this year alone. That's behind -- what's behind the violence and what are police doing to stop it there?

We're going to dig much deeper for you.

Also, we want you to weigh in on these stories. Go to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or We'll give some of your questions and your comments to our panel.

And make sure you check out our blog, where the NEWSROOM team is posting their thoughts about this story. Go to and you can click on Don.


LEMON: You know this is a record that the city of Chicago probably wished it had never broken. This is the city's deadliest school year ever for students who attend public schools there. Thirty-six murders so far. And for the past month, our Abbie Boudreau with our special investigations unit has been working this story, and she joins me now with a closer look.

Abbie, what is going on?

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it was really important for us to understand how all of this violence is affecting families in Chicago. So we gave a video camera to a mom and her 10-year-old son for a couple of weeks. We asked them to be open and honest, and to show us how difficult life is after losing a young family member to gun fire.


PAM BOSLEY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Tell me your name.


P. BOSLEY: And how old are you?

T. BOSLEY: I'm 10 years old.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Trevon Bosley sits in front of a video camera. His mom asked some questions about his older brother who was killed

P. BOSLEY: OK, so you had fun with your brother?


P. BOSLEY: Do you miss him?


P. BOSLEY: OK. So the day when all this took place, you were there, right? You went to the hospital?

T. BOSLEY: Can you pause it?

P. BOSLEY: No, let's talk. You went to the hospital?

Come on, Troy, it's hard.

That's too hard?


P. BOSLEY: OK. OK. All right.

BOUDREAU: A few minutes later, Trevon sits back on the couch in front of the camera.

P. BOSLEY: It's hard to talk about him, because everything has changed, right? T. BOSLEY: Yes.

P. BOSLEY: OK. So you don't have that same happiness in your house anymore?


P. BOSLEY: No more music.

BOUDREAU: School children throughout Chicago are scared. In the last school year, 36 students attending Chicago public schools have been killed. Thirty-six compared with 26 the previous year. The crimes happen off school property, most are shootings.

(on camera): How is this happening, then?

What is going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because no unity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Exactly. That's the word. That's the word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we are not unified. Because our young people are not unified, because we are not. We are their leaders. We are their parents. We are their community.

BOUDREAU: So who is failing the children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we all are.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong with us? Wake up.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): A memorial was held on Chicago's southside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering why we are not out on the street crying and screaming and beside ourselves.

BOUDREAU: Each brick you see represents a child who is killed in the city.

This is Pam Bosley, the voice you heard behind the camera, asking her young son about losing his 18-year-old brother, Terrell. This is his brick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have a moment of silence.

BOUDREAU: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was at the memorial. We asked him about the rise in student deaths.

(on camera): I'm wondering what you want the country to know right now about what's happening in Chicago? Tell us beyond what's happening, for the people here in Chicago, they know what's going on. What about the people in the rest of the country?

RICHARD M. DALEY, MAYOR, CHICAGO: Well, not in Chicago. You got every community. You go to a large city or small city. It's all over America. It's not unique to one community or one city. You're killing another generation. That's all they're doing.

BOUDREAU: But there's a lot more students here being killed in Chicago public school district

DALEY: Because they follow them. They identify them. In other cities, they are dropouts. They don't call them students anymore. You dropped out of school at 15. You're going at 14. We count them as even students even though they dropout. We count them as students. The rest of America doesn't count them. You are a dropout forever.

We don't think they are dropouts. They are students. They're 13 years old, or 14, or 15, or 16, or 17, even 19 or 20. And that's what you see. People forget them. They are called the dropout society.

BOUDREAU: So the problem isn't worse here than in other places?

DALEY: It's all over. Same thing.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): But as Chicago public school district spokesperson told us none of the 36 victims were dropouts. Though 15- year-old Alex Arellano, who was killed after being beaten, burned and shot in the head was forced to leave school.

His mourning family says Alex left because he was threatened by gang members. And when you compare student homicides in other major cities this school year, Chicago does stand out.

In Los Angeles, a bigger city known for gang activity, 23 students were killed. In Atlanta, there were four. In Philadelphia, there were also four killed, compared with Chicago's 36 student victims.

Most of the homicides happened on the city's south side. And if we zoom down to this neighborhood, street level and inside this house, there a 10-year-old boy dreams of making a difference.

T. BOSLEY: We have to have unity over revenge. I'm sending a powerful message that change is coming to America. I am the first black president of the United States.

I had to learn that speech because I want to be president just like Barack Obama

BOUDREAU: For two weeks...


BOUDREAU: ...we gave the Bosley Family a camera. P. BOSLEY: I have not been here since my son was murdered.

BOUDREAU: And asked them to record video diaries.

T. BOSLEY: I would give up any one of the games I have, anything just to get him back.

P. BOSLEY: I'm here at a cemetery visiting my baby. It's crazy. This is not the type of life that no mother should ever have to go through.

I tried to leave here on my own. Even though I was raised in the church, I tried to (INAUDIBLE). I tried to commit suicide. I couldn't take the pain. I tried, and I thank God that he did not allow me to go out like that, because my other two boys are already suffering.


LEMON: A child is murdered. A parent has to break the news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told my sons, I said your brother, he won't be coming home. I just looked at them, and I told them he won't be coming home.


LEMON: Our in-depth look at the crisis on the streets of Chicago continues.


LEMON: The epidemic of child killings in Chicago has everyone wondering how to stop it. Students hold anti-gun rallies, police go after street gangs and parents pray it doesn't happen to their children.

CNN's special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreaux's report continues.


BOUDREAU (on camera): There are so many people who are watching this who don't understand truly how it feels and no one can really know, but could you try to explain?

P. BOSLEY: It feels like somebody just took a knife and just stabbed you in the heart. And they don't stop. They just continue to stab you in your heart. But you are still living. You can't die.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Pam Bosley's son, Terrell, was shot in 2006 in this church parking lot just before band practice. The police still haven't found the killer. Terrell was not a gang member. He wanted to play the bass guitar in a gospel band. Instead, he was killed for no apparent reason and died a painful death.

P. BOSLEY: The bullet destroyed a lot of things. It destroyed a lot of things in his body. My baby was suffering. He could not breathe. He did not deserve this. It was horrible.

BOUDREAU: Pam and Tom Bosley feel people have become desensitized to all the killings because there are so many.

TOM BOSLEY, FATHER OF THE VICTIM: It can happen to anybody at any time.

BOUDREAU: Tom remembers how he told his other two sons their older brother had died.

TOM BOSLEY: I told my sons, I said, your brother, he won't be coming home. I just looked at them and I told them he won't be coming home. And they looked at me and they just stared. And I told them, I said, we'll get through it. I said we'll get through this. And they just looked at me.

BOUDREAU: Though nearly half of the cases have not been solved, police believe most of the killings are gang-related. We went out with members of the Chicago Police Department's Gang Task Force. The unit expanded in January.

CHIEF ERNEST BROWN, ORGANIZED CRIME DIVISION: I think whenever there is an available of guns and there are certain systemic ills in this generation, generation X, or whatever you choose to call it, where their behavior is just inconsistent with civility. And when you have that circumstance, you're going to have people who act outside of the norm.

BOUDREAU (on camera): So how bad is it?

DETECTIVE REGINA SCOTT, ORGANIZED CRIME DIVISION: I mean, this is an inner city. We have crime. As other inner cities do. We are not unique to this in this United States. You know, we're not -- you have Detroit. You've got New York. You've got L.A. We have a gang issue, and we're dealing with that.

But we are out here every day actively trying to make a difference.

RONNIE MOSELY, STUDENT LEADER: We are fed up, you know. We want a future and not a funeral.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): We also gave Ronnie Mosely a camera for a couple of weeks.

MOSELY: It's a state of emergency.

BOUDREAU: He's a senior class president.

MOSELY: Greg was a freshman here at CMR.

BOUDREAU: Earlier this year his classmate freshman Gregory Robinson was gunned down and killed. Police say Robinson was doing nothing wrong.

MOSELY: The car was gunned down by an AK-47. It was a car full of people and when it looked back and they told him to get up, you know, he was crouched over his family members, one who was a 10-month- old baby and the other was four years old. And, you know, when he got up, he was just breathing like -- and, you know, they saw him take his last breath.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of the solution to gun violence in our city and our neighborhood starts with commonsense gun laws.

BOUDREAU: Mosely has fought for years for stricter gun laws. He's had limited success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the gun down!


MOSELY: This is like genocide in our own backyard. And, you know, I see the U.S., we always are, you know, the champions. We go overseas and solve problems, but yet, you know, we still have problems here that, you know, we can't deal with.

BOUDREAU: Mosely isn't like a lot of other 17-year-olds. He knows he is not invincible.

MOSELY: Every day I get up thinking about the work that I do and, you know, this could be my last day here.

BOUDREAU: 10-year-old Trevon Bosley shares the same fears.

T. BOSLEY: I'm afraid that someone will shoot someone else in my family.

BOUDREAU (on camera): Do you feel like that could happen? I mean, is that the kind of thing you think about often?


BOUDREAU (voice-over): And it's the last thing he thinks about before going to sleep each night.

T. BOSLEY: Please don't let anybody get shot. Amen.


BOUDREAU: Though we were able to find out how many student deaths took place this year in L.A., Philadelphia and Atlanta, most other cities do not keep track like Chicago does.

For example, the New York City medical examiner's office told CNN, there were 34 school aged children killed this school year. But the office would not release the names and without the victim's names, school officials could not confirm how many of the children were actually enrolled in school so there's no way to actually compare a city like New York with Chicago.

LEMON: And you see, the mayor there talking about the numbers and the way that the stats are collected. But, you know, there's nothing like a pain for a parent to lose a child. And you could hear it in those parents' voice. You know, just how much pain they're in.

But insult to injury, in your report you said 50 percent, if not, more than 50 percent of these children, crimes or killings are not solved.

Why not?

BOUDREAU: Nearly half of them are unsolved at this point. I mean, the police say they are doing everything they can at this point. I mean, in a lot of cases, these are random shootings. But we talked to parents of victims who say, you know, a lot of the witnesses just simply won't come forward. They are afraid to come forward, retaliation or whatever the case may be. Or maybe in this particular community, maybe there are others like it, of course, there's just this code of silence. But whatever the case is, parents are just begging people to come forward in cases where there were witnesses.

LEMON: All right, Abbie. And certainly, we are not done yet, because we want to talk more about this.

So what is being done to secure the streets of Chicago?

Can community outrage and activism help in the killing? Our in- depth look at the crisis on the streets of Chicago continues.



P. BOSLEY: So, everybody, this is my baby. This is where I have to visit my son at, at the cemetery. This is unfair for any mother to have to visit their baby here. This don't make sense. He didn't deserve this. He wasn't in a gang and stuff. He didn't sell drugs. And I'm here at a cemetery visiting my baby and my kids can't even come out here and see their brother. It's crazy. This is not the type of life that no mother should ever have to go through. *



PAM BOSLEY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: So, everybody, this is my baby. This is where I have to visit my son at, at the cemetery. This is unfair for any mother to have to visit their baby here. This don't make sense. He didn't deserve this.

He wasn't in a gang and stuff. He didn't sell drugs. Nothing. And I'm here at a cemetery visiting my baby, and my kids can't even come out here and see their brother. This is crazy. This is not the type of life that no mother should ever have to go through.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You can say that again.

As heart-wrenching as this mother's grief is, there are many more parents who lost their babies to senseless violence that is gripping Chicago right now, parents like Patricia Brown. Her daughter, Patrice (ph), was the second child to be killed in the neighborhood. She died when she was struck by a stray bullet.

And also with her tonight is Diane Latiker, a mother of eight, who is actively trying to make a difference in Chicago's Roseland community.

And also tonight with us is our Abbie Boudreau, our Special Investigations correspondent, who has spent really weeks and weeks working on this story in the Chicago area and what can be done about it.

I want to start with you tonight, Mrs. Latiker, because you are reaching out in the community around you to try to make a difference with all of these murders.

Are you -- any progress in this? Have you seen any difference since you have started your work?

DIANE LATIKER, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Yes, actually I have. Is it enough? No. But yes, yes, we have. We have -- we reached out to youth who felt hopeless and who might have other things on their minds but because we were there, and this has come out of their own mouth, because we were there, we were outreach to them. We were the place to go to be safe, to be nurtured, to be thought about as doing something positive in their lives. So, yes.

LEMON: What kind of response have you gotten, Mrs. Brown, from the police department and from the community around you?

PATRICIA BROWN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I haven't gotten any response from the Chicago Police Department. It's been a while since I heard anybody, you know, heard from anyone. My community, you know, they're upset and sad, but other than that, I haven't heard any response from anyone.

LEMON: Did you realize -- sadly, it's hard to ask this question, and I was speaking to our Abbie Boudreau about it earlier, because I know that you have been outspoken on this, but when your daughter was killed, did you realize the possibility of the escalation in violence here? Did you -- did you in some way see this coming? P. BROWN: You know, I would -- not per se say seen it coming, but as the time goes on and the kids are out more and, you know, they have less time in the school than they do, it begins to escalate because I begin to see a lot of the children fighting more. And, you know, they're out of school a lot and there is no control. So, as it go on and on and went on, yes, you begin to see it. But you know, you just never think it would ever happen to your child.

LEMON: And, Abbie, you know, with still two, three weeks left in school, it's been 36 students so far. Hopefully, there won't be anymore, but these students will be out, they'll be out hanging out in summer. I know that they have curfews there, but you have to listen to what Ms. Brown says. There's definitely the possibility, let's be honest, that it could escalate with kids not being in a controlled or disciplined environment.

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Sure. And I think it's fair to ask what family situations are at home. And I'm curious, Diane, can you tell us just a little bit about, you've mentored so many of these teenagers. What did they tell you about how their family life is right now? What are they dealing with at home?

LATIKER: Wow. When I found out the issues that the youth to be dealt with -- when I found out the issues they have deal with, I'm sorry, I was overwhelmed myself. I could not even believe the daily things that they face just to make it to school, just to come outside. It's crazy. And we ought to help them. We ought to make sure that as a community, to be that safety net to help those youth who are dealing with so many problems at home.

LEMON: And, Diane -- and as I understand, Diane, you have opened your home to students who are at risk? You are allowing them to stay with you and you're helping mentor them?

LATIKER: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. They are there day and night. We have run a program for them, but most of them need more than four hours of a program. They need actual help, 24/7 support. And so that's what we want to do. And that's why I'm reaching out to everybody I can to say let's do that, let's do whatever it takes to stop our children from killing each other.

LEMON: Patricia Brown, what do you -- do you see a solution in this? You know, you heard -- you heard Mrs. Latiker there and say let's reach out to help each other. But as a mother, who is living through this, what's a solution for you, if any?

P. BROWN: One of the things that we need, we need to teach these children how to respect themselves, you know -- you know. And teach the parents who don't know how to be a parent, you know, to be a parent.

A lot of these young men and young women that I come in contact with, they're angry and they don't even know the reason why they're angry. No one showed them how to be respectful. No one has taught them how to grow up to be an adult. So, they are just walking around here like zombies because they don't know what to do and when to do it.

You know, that's the reason why I host a lot of blood drive so I get to meet a lot of different people and stuff like that, you know. And a lot of folks say, well, you know, I didn't know this was going on.

LEMON: And I want to bring -- I want to bring this up, Ms. Brown. Pardon me, because I want to --- before we end this, I want to make sure we talk about this.

We have talked about the way that the statistics are taken. And the mayor saying, well, you know, it happens in other areas and in other cities, but this isn't necessarily a problem that's just endemic to Chicago.

P. BROWN: You know, it's just not a Chicago thing. There's a lot more killings out there but this is not being reported like we are here in Chicago.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Abbie.

BOUDREAU: Well, I mean, I think what you say is right. But the mayor also told us that the numbers were high in Chicago because they count students who are dropouts and we know that's not the case.

So, you know, it's hard to know. We'll have to find out. We'll have to start asking questions in other cities. And I think that's a really good point to bring up. And I think it's also something that we need to ask the Chicago police department as well.

LEMON: OK. So, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Latiker, we have to go. We're up against a break here, but anything you want to say before we're done here?

LATIKER: Yes, I would. I would just like to say it doesn't matter how many murders are in each city, it doesn't matter who's to blame, who's what, what we need to do is find out from the young people why they're so angry and what do they need for us to help them to stop this violence.

LEMON: Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Latiker.

Mrs. Brown, our heart goes out to you.

P. BROWN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you both so much for joining us tonight and best of luck.

LATIKER: Thank you.

P. BROWN: Thank you.

LEMON: It is a question everyone is asking -- why can't the police stop the killings? We'll ask the chief of Chicago's organized crime division, just moments away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TREVON BOSLEY, VICTIM'S BROTHER: In our community, no one likes to talk about guns because we're scared of guns. And guns -- we are scared to walk out of alleys to play basketball, to play football, to play any games. Since I lost my brother, I've been sad and I've been angry. I've been sad of losing him and I've been angry at the person who did it and I'm angry at guns.


LEMON: A young boy in Chicago dealing with the senseless death of his older brother. The anger, frustration, heartache, it is being repeated over and over and over. And just this school year, 36 students have been killed in Chicago, making this the deadliest school year on record for the city.

Chicago police say gang activity is to blame for the majority of the killings. And Chief Ernest Brown is with the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department.

Chief, thank you very much.

Also here with us tonight is our Abbie Boudreau, our Special Investigations Unit correspondent.

So it seems like, you know, these gangs have really been around for a long time, Chief. So I ask you, why is it getting worse all of a sudden when gangs have been around for a while?

CHIEF ERNEST BROWN, CHICAGO POLICE ORGANIZED CRIME DIVISION: Well, there are several answers to that. Obviously, the availability of firearms, the increase in availability, has spawned a good deal of the violence.

However, one of the other things is that during the '80s and the '90s, with our federal partners, we were very effective in eliminating the heads of most of the major street gangs in Chicago. That, elimination of the heads, caused a major shift in how gangs function and how they did business related to their activities.

LEMON: Chief, with all due respect, there are guns that are available to people in Los Angeles. There are guns that are available to people in New York. And two cities that are bigger than Chicago, and they don't have the number of youth murders that you have.

So what is going wrong in Chicago that is not happening in other places?

E. BROWN: Well, I couldn't attest to what is happening in the other places. But again, the availability of firearms. There are some breakdowns -- as it is all over the country -- in some of the social structures that actually police neighborhoods. Those social structures being the family, the churches and schools. And we're seeking to collaborate with those social agencies that can foster and rebuild those social mechanisms. Because those are the mechanisms that actually police in tandem with law enforcement agencies.

LEMON: So CPD, Chicago Police Department, expanded that unit that you're talking about, the gang unit, in January, but the problem has gotten worse. How do you explain that?

E. BROWN: Well, I think it will be a mischaracterization to say that the problem has gotten worse. We're actually down 27 homicides from the same time period last year. So I don't think that the problem has necessarily gotten worse...

LEMON: If you look at the number last year, just 27 in 2007 or the school year 2007-2008 school year, and now 2008-2009, it is 36 and there's still two, three weeks left. So in that sense, if you look at the number of children who are killed, it is worse.

E. BROWN: That would be correct. The raw numbers do indicate that there are more children who have been murdered this year.

LEMON: And our Abbie Boudreau -- hang on a second, Chief, because Abbie Boudreau has been doing the investigating here.

And you talked to the parents. You also talked to the police department. You hear what the chief is saying, and you're hearing what the parents and the administrators are saying or at least the people who are working in the community.

So then what gives here? What do you say about the two sides? How can they come together? Who's right?

BOUDREAU: Well, I don't know. I think what's interesting is that a lot of the parents that I talked to, as I mentioned before, they feel as though a lot of these crimes, the reason that there -- nearly half of them are unsolved is because police -- the witnesses are not coming forward to police.

So, I guess my question to Chief Brown is what needs to happen in the community for witnesses, young teenagers, to feel safe enough to come forward with information to help solve these crimes?

E. BROWN: Well, I think the whole notion of a code of silence or stop snitching, I think that idea, that culture has to be done away with and realize that we stand to lose, as one of the parents said, an entire generation. And we have to step forward as a community to give up those gang-bangers.

We are not importing gang-bangers. Gang-bangers live right in the neighborhood. The shooters live right in the neighborhoods. And I think it's essential that decent folks stand up and point them out.

LEMON: OK. Hey, real quickly here. We're up against a break, Chief. One more question from our Abbie Boudreau because she wants to ask this and get this one. Go ahead.

BOUDREAU: I don't know. I was just wondering. I mean, I'm just curious. Are the problems with the gangs actually getting worse or is it just the numbers make it look like it's getting worse?

E. BROWN: The problems are definitely not getting worse.

BOUDREAU: Not getting worse?

E. BROWN: I think that we -- not getting worse. The numbers do tend to -- portend that it is getting worse.

But we are actually structuring our fight and focusing it on gangs with laser beam precision to attack gangs where they are.

The Gang Enforcement Unit, the Mobile Strike Force, the TRU unit, are all focused on fighting gangs at one level. Then we have the Gang Investigations Section that takes it to that next higher level along with the Narcotics Section and the Asset Forfeiture Unit.


LEMON: Ernest -- I'm sorry to cut you off there. Ernest Brown, we need to go. He is the chief of the Organized Crime Division from the Chicago Police Department.

We really appreciate you joining us here on a Saturday night. And really, our heartfelt best wishes to you, when we hear about so many young people dying. A story that we have to cover and we have to be concerned about. I'm sure you guys are there as well. So again, best of luck and come back and give us an update.

Also, thank you very much to our Abbie Boudreau, our Special Investigations Unit correspondent, who has been digging into this story and will continue to until we figure out what's going on. So thank you very much for that.

And you can read more about what's happening in Chicago. As I said, SIU's Abbie Boudreau is keeping a blog as she continues to investigate this issue. Go to

OK. Well, she saw the headlines -- more and more families going without. So, she put down the paper and she took action. And now, she's touching lives around the country. She's our hero and you can help her.


LEMON: Going without. More and more families at all financial levels are focused -- are forced to do that in these days. Sometimes, you know what, they're even foregoing food. But tonight's CNN hero is trying to change that -- redefining what it means to be a good neighbor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The things that we could do like go to the movie, we haven't done it in quite a while. We just go to church and come home.

I work for the city.

We're not poor. We're not broke. But it's a real struggle to survive right now.

PAM KONER, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Families who were able to make it and just get through the month aren't now able to make it quite the same way anymore. So, food becomes the item that gets dropped at the end of the month.

My name is Pam Koner. I began an organization that links families with more to families with less.

After learning about this community in Illinois that women and children were not eating the last week of the month, something moved me to come up with something to change this.

I sent a letter out to all of the families in my child care businesses, and asked, well, how about if we match families. Our original mission was to help poor rural communities. We began to expand to help families who were not in need of help before but now were in trouble.

Families purchase and send groceries or donate via PayPal. Most families are also exchanging letters, opening up to each other and sharing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very happy to hear from you. I did get your e-mail, also your wonderful package that you sent for us. This will be a great help for the entire family.

KONER: No one really knows what's going to happen tomorrow. We're all part of a big family. We need to be there for each other.


LEMON: If you know someone who deserves to be a CNN hero, go to our Web site and tell us about them. Remember, all of our heroes are chosen from people you nominate at


LEMON: OK. Here are your comments.

IStayFi says, "I'm a 13-year-old who lives in Chicago on the South Side. I attend Chicago public schools. I'm scared everywhere. No sense."

Here's what Gledago says, "If those were white children being killed, then the community would rise up and law enforcement would stop the killing."

Robert_Connor says, "What's happening in Chicago is truly deplorable. Something must be done."

DarellBogan says, "I'm from Chicago and I'm part of the problem because I ran after college like most -- ran after college like most, leaving those kids with no positive role models."

Very interesting comments. Thank you for that.

Log on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or Tell us what you're thinking and your comments can get on the air.

Back in a moment with more.


LEMON: Authentic American 1950s drive-ins. Some of them still exist. But, you know, the burgers, the jukebox, the carhops -- well --- then the flood. And the owner now is trying to rebuild one of them because of that. But the recession isn't helping out.

CNN's Ed Lavandera with tonight's "MONEY & MAIN ST."


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The smell of grilled hamburgers lingers in what's left of this A&W Drive-In.

DOUG WARD, FLOOD VICTIM: This was the dining area.

LAVANDERA: But Doug Ward smells the stench of stale river water from last year's flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

(on camera): This has got to be painful to see?

WARD: It is. It's very painful to see. It was our lives for 30 years.

LAVANDERA (voice over): When the Cedar River spilled over its banks, Ward's drive-in drowned in almost 10 feet of water. Almost a year later, the drive-in sits in ruins, the root beer mugs still muddy.

WARD: A lot of them are older mugs. The older designs.

LAVANDERA: Ward doesn't know if rebuilding here is worth it. If people don't come back, who's going to loan him the $900,000 needed to rebuild the drive-in? Even changing location will cost more than $1 million. It's a painful decision.

WARD: If the neighborhood was normal, we'd have this place up and running again, yes. If we decide to move somewhere else, so we have to, you know, we have to let it go.

LAVANDERA: The flood also destroyed Ward's church and his home just a few blocks away. He estimates rebuilding the house will cost $75,000 and he doesn't have insurance.

WARD: This was the living room.

LAVANDERA: FEMA gave him $28,000 toward home costs, but for now Ward and his wife live in a trailer six miles away. It's not the same.

(on camera): Does this feel like at home at all?

WARD: It doesn't to me, no. It doesn't.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Since 1948, the Ward's drive-in has been a landmark in Cedar Rapids' Time Check neighborhood, a fixture for people cruising down Ellis Boulevard in antique cars, a throwback to the 1950s. The drive-in evolved over time, but it defined the personality of this working-class neighborhood.

MARK STOUFFER HUNTER, CEDAR RAPIDS HISTORIAN: It's almost like our own little Eiffel Tower.

LAVANDERA: To Cedar Rapids' historian Mark Stouffer Hunter, Doug Ward's story is why this road is the "boulevard of broken dreams."

(on camera): The idea that he might not be able to put the business back here.

HUNTER: Yes, it hurts because it's still happening not just in this neighborhood, but all over the neighborhoods that were affected by the flood.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Getting loans to rebuild the drive-in isn't easy. So far, he's qualified for a $350,000 disaster loan, but much more is still needed. Ward says each passing day brings more financial pressure.

WARD: Within a month or two, we're going to have to find something to keep us above water, and if we don't get something else going here --

LAVANDERA: He doesn't know what kind of job he'll find. Doug Ward misses the job he loved -- serving his friends a frosty root beer.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.



LEMON: I'm Don Lemon in Atlanta. I'll see you back here tomorrow night, 6:00, 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

"MONEY & MAIN ST." begins right now.