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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Why Are Chicago Schoolchildren Dying?; Shocking New Details Emerge on Tuberculosis Patient
Aired May 31, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening from the South Side of Chicago, a tough neighborhood with strong people reeling from a killing spree that cannot be ignored.
I want to show you a picture that explains why we have come here tonight. You're looking at eight young people, eight out of at least 28 Chicago public school kids killed so far this school year, 28, killed, we should point out, mainly by other kids.
Some came from broken homes. Other had solid families behind them. One dead child is too many. Twenty-eight is an outrage.
Things have gotten so bad here and elsewhere in America, that these kids' deaths don't even make headlines anymore. Their names should be known, their lives honored, and their deaths remembered.
Tonight, we will try to understand what is happening to kids here in Chicago and urban communities across the country. There are no easy answers, but the problems are too important to ignore.
We begin right now with the many new developments in the case of Andrew Speaker, the man with T.B. That's his name. We learned that today, Andrew Speaker. And we learned more, new details, strange coincidences, examples of how government agencies responsible for your health may have simply blown it.
Today, the first man in four decades ordered by the government into medical isolation is in a hospital in Denver -- this after traveling the world, knowing he had a dangerous form of T.B.
Today, his father spoke out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THEODORE SPEAKER, FATHER OF TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: He specifically asked if he was not permitted to go. They said, no. We prefer you not to go, but we're not saying you not to go. They knew that he was getting married. And they knew the arrangements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: County health officials, though, state they made it perfectly clear he should not fly. But he did.
Then the CDC told him to get immediate treatment in Rome, but he didn't. Then he flew to Prague and Montreal, and drove into America, where, today, we learned a border guard didn't stop him, even though his name was on a hot list.
Finally, perhaps the strangest new development of all, and with that, here's CNN's Rusty Dornin.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andrew Speaker's connection with the CDC predates his illness. His new father-in-law works in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.
DR. ROBERT COOKSEY, FATHER-IN-LAW OF TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: As part of my job, I am regularly tested for T.B.
DORNIN: Dr. Robert Cooksey says he give -- quote -- "fatherly advice" when he found out the man marrying his daughter had the disease. But he didn't say when he gave it.
COOKSEY: I wasn't involved in any decisions my son-in-law made regarding his travel, nor did I ever act as a CDC official or in an official CDC capacity with respect to any of the events of the past weeks.
DORNIN: Should he have been? He didn't say.
As father of the bride, Cooksey was in Greece for the wedding.
COOKSEY: I would never knowingly put my daughter, friends, or anyone else at risk from such a disease.
DORNIN: Speaker is a personal injury attorney at his father's firm in Atlanta.
Ted Speaker doesn't believe his son acted irresponsibly.
SPEAKER: The way he's being shown and spoken about on TV, it's like a terrorist traveling around the -- the world, escaping authorities. This is blown out of proportion immensely.
DORNIN: Speaker's wife visited him in his Denver hospital room Thursday, as this video from ABC News shows.
One of Speaker's friends described him as responsible, caring, and honest. Yet, Speaker was warned not to travel.
And, two days before he took off, he learned he didn't have just T.B., but drug-resistant T.B.
JASON VIK, SHARED FLIGHT WITH TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: He spent a lot of money and -- and planned his honeymoon and his wedding. I think it was very selfish of him to -- to understand that, you know, you have a disease that is communicable through air, and then to sit on a flight for eight-and-a-half hours with 487 people.
DORNIN: What's more, these students who flew with Speaker from Atlanta to Paris say they never saw anyone wearing a mask, as Speaker had agreed to do, according to doctors here in Atlanta. The question now, where did Speaker contract T.B.?
COOKSEY: My son-in-law's T.B. did not originate from myself or the CDC labs.
DORNIN: Speaker says he may have gotten it on a fund-raising trip to hospitals in Southeast Asia. Doctors say Speaker has been globe-trotting for six years, and they still don't know where he contracted it.
Rusty Dornin, CNN Atlanta.
COOPER: Some perspective now from 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, I mean, we have learned a lot more about Andrew Speaker today. Bizarre coincidence that his father-in-law is this guy Dr. Robert Cooksey, the CDC microbiologist. Is it possible he got it from him?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that question was asked of Mr. Cooksey, as well.
This is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOKSEY: As part of my job, I am regularly tested for T.B. I do not have T.B., nor have I ever had T.B. My son-in-law's T.B. did not originate from myself or the CDC labs, which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: It sounds like it's extraordinary unlikely that he contracted it from his father-in-law, a couple of reasons.
His father-in-law is tested regularly. It sounds like he's negative. And, also, keep in mind that T.B. bacteria cannot sort of live on your skin. You can't transmit it by shaking hands or casual contact. So, it sounds like that's -- that's probably not where he got it -- Anderson.
COOPER: Doctors are waiting for his radiology results before whether or not they -- to determine whether or not he needs surgery. What does actually surgery entail?
GUPTA: Yes, You know, this is interesting, because a lot of people don't associate surgery and infectious disease together.
But, in fact, there can be an operation that can actually help treat a type of infectious disease, in this case, the tuberculosis. What happens is, if you think about the -- you can see those X-rays there. You see certain areas of the lung are -- sort of just look sort of socked in. And that's where the bacteria sort of clumps together. I want to show you a little animation of what happens, possibly, in an operation. You actually have the surgeon, first of all, who has to actually wear a mask. Obviously, they're protecting themselves, and they're about to remove a clump of bacteria from the lung.
So, what happens is, typically, this bacterial infection will sort of localize itself to the lung. And, if it's in one specific spot, you can literally take out that lobe of the lung, essentially curing someone of their tuberculosis infection.
Now, if it's more spread throughout the lung, obviously, surgery is not going to be an option. I don't think they know for sure yet whether they're going to be perform an operation. They are still testing out various medications -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, obviously, his wife was exposed, possibly airline passengers were. How do they go about getting tested?
GUPTA: Well, there's a couple of different ways to -- to get tested.
And one is the skin test, which, Anderson, you probably had, with all the travel that you do. They just literally poke a little bit of the tuberculin bacteria underneath your skin, and then see if you react to it. If you react to it, it means your body has previously seen tuberculosis, to the tuberculin bacteria. And that means you have been exposed at some point.
Another test they do is, they actually test some of your sputum. And what they're looking for is the bacteria. If it's present, that's also a positive test.
The thing that's crucial here, Anderson, is, they may do that test now. It takes about 48 to 72 hours to come back. It needs to be repeated at six months, and then again six months after that. So, it could be about a year before someone knows for sure that they're out of the woods on this.
COOPER: Well, that's going to be a long year.
Sanjay, appreciate it -- Sanjay Gupta reporting.
And, as Rusty Dornin reported earlier, Andrew Speaker says he might have contracted T.B. last year in Southeast Asia. Now, if so, it wouldn't be unusual.
CNN's Tom Foreman shows us right now the big picture of a problem that's literally all around the world.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the world's hot zones for tuberculosis are easily seen. North America is almost untouched. The U.S. has 300 million residents, but only about 1,300 T.B. deaths in a year. As you move down the globe, the incidence starts rising. Brazil has about 15,000 deaths from this disease. Go across the Pacific Ocean, to the Russian Federation, about 28,000 T.B. deaths annually there. And this is one of the areas where drug-resistant strains of T.B. are showing up.
That's true, too, as you dip down into Asia, where, overall, T.B. is much, much worse. China loses more than 200,000 people a year, India more than 300,000. They have a lot of poverty. They don't have a lot of health care among the poor. They're losing 1,400 people a day to T.B. That's more than America loses in a year.
Now swing over to Africa. And this is the worst part of all. Look at the middle of this country. This area right in here, on a per capita basis, that's where you have the highest death rate from T.B. And, once again, it's not just T.B. The combined problems are what makes it so terrible, T.B. along with malnutrition, poor health care, dirty water, AIDS, and a host of other worries, all working together to help the disease grow in these troubled areas, and sometimes even grow stronger against the drugs we have to treat it -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks.
This deadly form of T.B. is spread through the air. Here's the "Raw Data" on it. Here's what we know.
An infected person can transmit the bacteria through sneezing, coughing, or talking. It cannot be spread by shaking someone's hand, sharing food or a drink, or sharing toothbrushes, or by kissing.
For kids here on Chicago's South Side, the danger isn't from something far away, like T.B. It's from the barrel of a gun or the edge of a knife. And it can be found on these dangerous streets that they walk on every day to get to school.
Since the start of the school year in September, at least 28 public school students have been murdered in this city -- 28 kids. Most of them were shot to death. Others were stabbed or strangled.
The latest victim was killed just two days ago. Her name was Desiree Smith. She was the third student from her school killed this academic year.
Something is happening here in Chicago, and nationwide, for that matter, with kids and violence.
Tonight, in a special edition of 360, for the rest of this hour, we are going to try to get some answers, find out why children are dying and what's being done to stop it.
These are kids who had lives, and they had families, and they have names.
One of them was Blair Holt. Here is CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Midnight, May 10, Blair Holt stayed up late on a school night, possibly to work on his next rap song.
MATTINGLY: These are the words and beat of a streetwise kid from the rough-and-tumble South Side of Chicago. Just 16, he had already seen a lifetime of violent death.
ANNETTE NANCE HOLT, MOTHER OF BLAIR HOLT: It had been quite a few kids lately who had been killed by gunfire, at least three that have been killed by gunfire in the neighborhood. And he knew them, because Blair grew up from a baby in that neighborhood. They knew him.
MATTINGLY: But knowing them was one thing. Becoming one of them, a gangbanger, was a line Blair never dared to cross. His police officer father and firefighter mother made sure of that.
A. HOLT: Well, I always told Blair, you know, be careful who is around you. Always watch your surroundings, because you can have somebody who is in a gang who is around you, you know, and they could -- they never seem to hit who they was aiming for, anyway, I mean.
And Blair would be like: I know, ma. I know, ma.
MATTINGLY: And it was a message his parents say they reinforced every day. College was going to be Blair's way out. And, at 7:00 a.m., just like every other morning, his mother says she took him on a 15-minute drive to school, dropping him off with these words of encouragement.
A. HOLT: Whatever do you today, do good. When you go to school, do good.
MATTINGLY: They were instructions that Blair took to heart. He made good grades and found a talent for rap, adopting the stage name Bizzy B.
He walked through the metal detectors at the school entrance almost 45 minutes early. This was his time, time to socialize, time to make plans.
(on camera): One of Blair's favorite things to do before class was to meet up with his friends and go over the lyrics he had written the night before. Sometimes, they would talk about the future, about going into the music business. His parents say Blair set a very lofty goal for himself. He wanted to be a star.
A. HOLT: When I'm famous, I'm going to buy you a brand-new 745, because I know you love that car. He told me that. He said, don't worry. Don't worry. I'm going to buy you a brand-new one.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But Blair's parents did worry. They became increasingly troubled, as violence made headlines, and the death toll among Chicago's school-age children continued to rise.
(on camera): As you are seeing these terrible things happen to other families, did you ever think that it would come into your own lives?
RONALD HOLT, FATHER OF BLAIR HOLT: No.
A. HOLT: No.
R. HOLT: Not -- and you couldn't have told me, convinced me, in a million years, that we would be experiencing this, and going through this, no way, no how.
MATTINGLY: Throughout the Thursday classes, students talked about final exams. The end of the school year was at hand. Soon, Blair would be a senior.
And when the 3:00 bell sounded at the end of the day, there was no reason to believe that anything was standing in the way of Blair Holt realizing all of his dreams.
He then boarded a city bus bound for his grandparents' store, where he worked every afternoon.
(on camera): This is the beginning of what was supposed to be a 40-minute ride, 40 minutes that always made his mom nervous, because it was one of the few times that Blair was on the go without his parents' supervision.
A. HOLT: Yes, I would call my mother and go, is Blair there yet?
I said, as soon as he walks through that door, call me.
R. HOLT: Yes, that -- that day, he didn't have -- I think his cell phone wasn't working. And I would always call his cell phone...
A. HOLT: Right.
R. HOLT: ... after school. I says, Blair, call me to let me know that you made it to the store.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): When Blair took a seat with fellow students, he might have been thinking about new lyrics he had put to paper, his hardest-hitting yet, a dark and angry rap about gangs and young lives that ended too soon.
He even wondered if his own life might end violently at the hands of street thugs, saying, "They won't stop until my mother is grieving."
A. HOLT: He was just talking about how life is. And, I mean, that's what a lot of young black males feel, what life is like for them. It's like no hope. And, I mean, he had hope, but he was writing how he feels.
MATTINGLY: But just six blocks later, shots rang out on that Chicago city bus. Blair Holt had come face to face with the violence that he railed against.
But what happened to this son of a cop father and firefighter mom was just beginning.
(on camera): The two of you know what it means to put your life on the line. But what your son did, that was different, wasn't it?
A. HOLT: Oh, my God.
R. HOLT: That was different.
A. HOLT: My hero. My hero.
COOPER: Not only her hero, everyone's hero.
How Blair became a hero, that story is next, when our special report continues.
COOPER: I'm standing on South Prairie Street on the South Side of Chicago, a tough neighborhood where you will find strong people, churches, hardworking parents, and where you will also find drugs and guns and death.
Many of the victims are children. At least 28 public school students have died here since September -- 28 kids. And this is happening around the country in inner-city neighborhoods, where juvenile crime is on the rise.
Before the break, we told you about a young man with a bright future, his name, Blair Holt. With the end of the school year approaching, he spent one Thursday in class. When the bell rang, he boarded the bus, with no idea of what was about to happen.
Once again, here is CNN's David Mattingly.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Three-twenty 20 on a Thursday afternoon early in May. Blair Holt was almost halfway through the 40-minute bus ride from his school to his grandparents' store.
The bus made a regular stop. But, this time, the passenger who boarded was, according to police, a gang member looking to settle a score. He allegedly pulled a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and fired wildly, missing his intended victim, but hitting innocent bystanders.
If it all weren't so horrifyingly real, Blair Holt might have found a way to work it into a new rap song. But all he had time for were a simple words.
R. HOLT: He said, tell my mother and father that I love them.
And he says -- and then he -- she said that he -- that he threw up the peace sign.
A. HOLT: He knew he wouldn't come home to me.
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: But he still got me a message, because I felt that I didn't have any closure with him.
MATTINGLY: In all, five students were shot, and a community was stunned.
Blair was hit worst of all. Shot in the chest, there was a lot of internal bleeding. Blair Holt died that night at 9:03.
(on camera): The young man who dreamed of becoming a rap star had become shooting victim number 20 in a deadly Chicago school year. But, soon, everyone would hear of something remarkable that happened at the scene of this crime, something that would transform Blair Holt into much more than just a sad statistic.
Because of what you two do, the two of you know what it means to put your life on the line. You do that as a matter of duty.
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: Without thinking.
R. HOLT: Yes.
MATTINGLY: But what your son did, that was different, wasn't it?
A. HOLT: Oh, my God.
R. HOLT: That was different. That was different, and that was extremely, of course, personal. And...
A. HOLT: My hero. My hero.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): When the bullets started flying, this 16-year-old, his dad a policeman and his mom a firefighter, grabbed a classmate and pulled her out of the line of fire, saving her life.
TIARA REED, SHOOTING VICTIM: I remember him pulling me and throwing me on the seat. And I remember getting shot in the leg. And then everything, it just went -- I felt the pain, and then that was it.
MATTINGLY: Thanks to Blair, Tiara Reed lived to tell her story.
But Blair had no time to protect himself. He was the only one on the bus to die. And his parents decided it was time to take a stand.
R. HOLT: Not having my son, not -- not having my son, because it hurts. And I'm going to be strong for him. I'm going to be strong for him, no matter what, no matter what, because that's what he wants. And that's what he's going to get.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blair, we walking for you. Blair, we walking for you.
MATTINGLY: Students and parents at Blair's high school protested, demanding safe passage to and from school.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Put the guns down!
MATTINGLY: Then, another protest, this one at a neighborhood gun shop. The fame Blair Holt dreamed about in life came to him that violent day he died in Chicago. He became a symbol for a community tired of the killing.
(on camera): Your son was number 20. If we had been paying this much attention to child number one...
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: Right, we would be...
MATTINGLY: ... would we be talking today?
A. HOLT: No.
R. HOLT: Probably not.
A. HOLT: No, because, like I said, so many people take for granted...
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: ... what's happening in the black community. And it's not always gang-related. It's -- it's really not. A lot of people who are getting killed are innocent.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Blair's anger about the violence lives on in his music.
"When I'm gone," he said, "I don't want to be forgotten. Every time I turn around, bodies is dropping." They're the lyrics he wrote, but never had a chance to record. And some now wonder, was he right when he predicted an end to the killing by saying, "They won't stop until my mother is grieving?"
A. HOLT: No matter who you are, what color you are, or what demographics you come from, we got to wake up. We got to wake up, because it's my child today. It might be yours tomorrow.
COOPER: And we're joined by Ronald Holt. He's the father of Blair. He's also a Chicago policeman assigned to the organized crime unit. He joins me now, along with CNN contributor Roland Martin.
Mr. Holt, I'm so sorry for your loss.
R. HOLT: Thank you.
COOPER: How are you, and how is your wife doing?
R. HOLT: Under the circumstances, there's a -- we're holding up. There's a lot of sadness, a lot of sorrow.
His mom, Annette, she's -- she's holding it together the -- under the circumstances. You have to understand, she -- she lost her only child. We lost our only child. And that sadness and sorrow has -- has resonated throughout our family structure, friends that were close to him, schoolmates, everything, everyone.
COOPER: And, I mean, your son did everything right. Your son was a great student. He was going to school.
R. HOLT: Yes.
COOPER: He was -- 45 minutes, he went to school early.
R. HOLT: Yes.
COOPER: You -- his wife -- you know, your wife took him to school.
R. HOLT: Yes, that's correct.
COOPER: What's happening here?
R. HOLT: Well, what you see is, you have 28 killings, 28 murders within the last school year, 21 within a -- over the span of just beginning this year.
That's like two -- two murders of teenagers a week. And that is a total of just 28 too many. You have what you call a situation in the environment at the home level, where parents, you wonder how they're raising their children.
You wonder, are they doing a good job with these type -- with children who find themselves out on the streets in gangs, carrying guns, things of that nature? And that is a concern in our communities. So, that has to be addressed. And it has to be addressed as soon as possible, because... COOPER: And it's -- I mean, it's kids who are just getting caught in the crossfire.
R. HOLT: Yes.
COOPER: I mean, your son wasn't involved with that.
R. HOLT: No, he was on his way home -- I'm sorry -- he was on his way to grandparents' store, like he normally did just about every day.
And he was on the bus with some other schoolmates. And then this other person got on the bus and shot him.
COOPER: Roland, you live here. What's going on? How do you explain it?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Whether it's Chicago, whether it's Houston, whether it's Oakland, there's a generation of folks who do not value life.
And they choose to be involved in a crime. And there are a number of factors. You could talk about poverty. You could talk about economics. You could talk about education.
But what I prefer to focus on is the fact that the individuals who allegedly killed Blair, they have parents. And, at some point, you have to understand what your kids are doing. At some point, they have to understand it's about life.
I hear people talk about, well, you know, in terms of what whites have done over the years, and slavery. The fact of the matter is, I never had anybody white make me pull a trigger, never had me kill somebody who was African-American.
And, so, at some point, we have to have some responsibility. And we also have to deal with the fact that you have too many sperm donors in the black community. You have individuals who are not a father.
This is a father. This is a daddy. There are some people who have impregnated women and they left them. So, you have a generation of boys who flat-out don't understand what it means to be disciplined, who don't understand what it means to grow up to be a boy and to become a man. That is a fundamental issue that we have to confront.
COOPER: I mean, how does one go about confronting that? What -- you know, there's talking about it, and, then, what -- what can you actually do about it?
MARTIN: It's -- look, the concept is, what are you prepared to do? And that is, what can you do in your space?
And, so, in terms of what Mr. Holt is doing, and what his wife is doing, but what our churches and community groups are doing, it's a matter of saying, OK, how do we begin to pick up trash, how to begin to talk to him -- talk to them, how do we begin to have nonviolent sort of classes and seminars within school to deal with anger management, because you have kids who are going to school angry, upset, and who, the moment they walk into the door, they -- they have gone through so much just to get there, they begin to internalize that, and then begins to project on the rest of the students.
COOPER: You talked about wanting to stay strong for your son.
R. HOLT: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Actually, this is -- I -- we get through the day. I get through it. You know, Blair had such a strength, that, when we lost them, I kind of -- his strength had kind of transferred to me as well.
And, you know, I just kind of advocate that, like Roland said here, you have to identify at-risk families, and you have to really identify them as quick as possible, because you need to find out what's going on inside of those homes, before that problem comes out on to the street, and someone else meets their fate, like -- like my son did.
And then you had four other people who were shot on that bus as well. I feel for those families just as well. Then you have got the -- the offenders who are now in jail. Their lives are ruined. They are going to be in jail for the rest of their lives.
So, it is a catastrophic effect for an entire community.
MARTIN: That's right.
R. HOLT: An entire community is affected by this one instance.
MARTIN: That's right.
R. HOLT: You not only, of course, have my son's life that was lost. Again, four other students were shot. They're psychologically damaged.
COOPER: It ripples out.
R. HOLT: It ripples out. So, then you have to...
MARTIN: Now people are more scared, more fearful.
R. HOLT: Exactly. You know, they're -- they're -- and we have to do what I say. We have to create a safe passage for them.
That means you're going to have to have organizations like the churches. You're going to have to have block clubs.
MARTIN: That's right.
R. HOLT: You're going to have to have these schools, the police department create a collective partnership to solve this problem.
MARTIN: ... take back the neighborhood.
R. HOLT: Yes. Yes.
MARTIN: ... got to take them back.
R. HOLT: Exactly.
MARTIN: ... have to take them back.
R. HOLT: You're going to have to have more men, more responsible men who are going to come out into the community...
MARTIN: That's right.
R. HOLT: ... and become more responsible, and step to the forefront, and start mentoring these kids again.
And we're going to have to create programs that are going to help these at-risk families...
MARTIN: That's right.
R. HOLT: ... where these single parents know...
R. HOLT: ... that they have -- that they have a child that may be a problem and may be a threat to the community.
And we need organizations that can address that before that happens.
COOPER: I know you're -- you're proud of Blair and what he did.
R. HOLT: Oh, yes, yes.
COOPER: And he would be proud of you for what you plan to do...
R. HOLT: Well, I'm more proud of Blair, because, in his death, he exemplified courage, bravery. He did everything right.
And he was absolutely -- I say he was martyred, in such a humble sense. I would say that our little boy was -- was pretty much like the Martin Luther King of -- of that situation. And we're proud of him. And we miss him. And we love him, so -- and we love him very much. And we miss him. COOPER: We will be right back.
COOPER: We're coming to you live from the south side of Chicago. Our 360 special "Deadly Lessons: 24 Hours in Chicago".
As we've been telling you, at least 28 Chicago public school kids have been murdered this school year, 28. Think about this for a moment. If 28 white suburban kids were killed in a school year, wouldn't you have heard of it by now? Wouldn't it have made national headlines?
The head of the Chicago public schools thinks it would. We'll talk to him in a moment.
Even in Chicago's toughest public neighborhood, parents do what they can to protect their kids. Many escort them to school. That's what one mom did until the day she decided enough was enough.
Here's CNN's Keith Oppenheim.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's mid afternoon about 3 p.m. when Towanda Pore begins an exhausting routine. It wasn't always this way.
Early in the spring, she didn't drive. Instead, she walked, a kind of crossing guard, escorting her five daughters five blocks from school to home, a moving shield.
TOWANDA PORE, PARENT: A lot of stuff don't happen if a parent were there.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): If you're the watch dog.
TOWANDA PORE: If you're the watch dog.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Towanda and her husband, Steven, have seen a lot of change here in Austin, a neighborhood on Chicago's west side.
TOWANDA PORE: Everybody was friendly.
OPPENHEIM: There was a great school nearby, the Spencer Matthews Science Academy.
TOWANDA PORE: Hi.
OPPENHEIM: Towanda volunteered there regularly, deeply committed to her girls' education and their safety. But that routine came apart last summer.
(on camera) There were bodies that were found along that fence?
TOWANDA PORE: Right there. That fence there, and right over here.
TOWANDA PORE: Yes.
(voice-over) In the lot right across the street from Towanda's home, two young men were shot and killed in two separate gang-related incidents. But it didn't stop there. Steadily, the Austin neighborhood got more and more violent. Daughter Tamirah said last year, a boy in her high school, shot and killed.
TAMIRAH PORE, STUDENT: It was devastating. You see him one day, and next day you hear he's just gone.
OPPENHEIM: And then last November a 14-year-old student at their school, the Spencer Academy, was killed in a drive-by shooting.
CAROLYN PALMER, PRINCIPAL, SPENCER ACADEMY: Now tell me...
OPPENHEIM: Carolyn Palmer, Spencer Academy's principal, told me security officers and staff can only protect a tight perimeter.
PALMER: We try to keep whatever happens within our boundaries, something that we can control. But we cannot control within a block away.
OPPENHEIM: For Towanda Pore, the shootings were all closing in on her children. It was terrifying to let the girls out of her sight.
(on camera) What was it like for you to see that reaction on their faces that there had been shootings right across the street?
TOWANDA PORE: I was scared. I -- you know, I knew that I had to do something to get away.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): So earlier this spring, Towanda and her husband bought a house in a place they could afford. It took them 60 miles away to Kankakee, Illinois.
And that brings us back to Towanda's exhausting routine. She believes in the Spencer Academy and decided not to disrupt her girls' classes. So she now leaves home just after 6 a.m., drives her five girls an hour and a half to school, back and forth every day.
TOWANDA PORE: Yes, it was hard to believe, because my kids, they -- they didn't want to go at all.
OPPENHEIM: Next year her kids will go to school in Kankakee, near their new home.
Towanda knows other parents in Austin disagree with her, believing there's still a community here worth fighting for. But who else, she asks, can really protect her kids?
(on camera) Did the deaths of Chicago public school kids, did that add to your wanting to move?
TOWANDA PORE: Yes. It's like, you know, I wanted to take my kids somewhere where they won't have to worry about that.
OPPENHEIM: Anderson, when I talked to Towanda Pore, she emphasized that her decision to leave Chicago was not about the school; it was about the neighborhood. In fact, she said she loved the Spencer Academy, where most of her kids went.
But in the end she felt that she could not trust what was off school grounds. She felt her kids were safe while they were at the school but not just off the property -- Anderson.
COOPER: Choices no mom should have to make in America. Keith Oppenheim, thanks.
More from here in Chicago in a moment. First, here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow.
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KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.
Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING", can air travel make you sick? We've all been talking about the man infected with that dangerous drug-resistant form of tuberculosis. We're going to find out just how many other potential germs and health threats could be on board your next flight.
That's tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING", beginning at 6 Eastern.
Anderson, back to you.
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COOPER: Kiran, thanks.
Up next the man who runs the Chicago school system, who has seen 28 of his kids murdered this year. Later, more of what he's up against.
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COOPER (voice-over): Kids killing kids, armed to the teeth.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are 70,000 plus illegal weapons in this room, including more than 11,000 that were confiscated in the calendar year of 2006 alone.
COOPER: But it's not just guns that are killing our kids. Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest", highlighting the people trying to save Chicago's future.
Also eye-opening new details about the guy who triggered a global germ scare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's being shown and spoken about on TV, it's like a terrorist traveling around the world, escaping authorities.
COOPER: The son who traveled the world with deadly T.B. The father who knew, the father-in-law, a government T.B. expert who knew and didn't stop him. What in the world was going on? Ahead on 360.
COOPER: Chicago's high school seniors are going to be graduating in the coming weeks. Of course it should be a time of joy. But for some families, it's only going to bring pain.
More than two dozen school kids have been shot, stabbed or strangled this school year. Not on school property but on the way to school or on the way home or at home.
Some believe the violence would make national headlines if the victims were from a white suburb. Arne Duncan oversees the entire school system. Here's what he told us. He said, quote, "These are inner city kids from Chicago, and people see their lives as less valuable."
Arne Duncan joins me now.
What is going on here? You and I were talking before. You said it's insanity.
ARNE DUNCAN, HEAD OF CHICAGO SCHOOLS: For me it's a definition of insanity. There's so much to be proud of here. You know, best year ever academically. Violence is down 21 percent this year in the schools. There's so much that's going right.
But the fact our children have to live in such fear to me is absolutely crazy. I think as a society, we value our right to bear arms more than we value our children. And it makes so sense whatsoever.
COOPER: It does seem that, you know, after a while you start to think of this as normal. It's happened so much. And then you've got to stop yourself and say, "You know what? This is not normal. Twenty-eight deaths is not normal. What's happening, not only in Chicago but around the country."
DUNCAN: It's crazy. You interviewed Blair Holt's (ph) dad just a few moments ago. Someone came up to say, "I'm so sorry about that, Arne. Unfortunately, Blair was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Except that is absolutely wrong. He was in the right place at the right time. It's 3 p.m. in the afternoon. He was going home from school on the bus. How can he not be safe there?
COOPER: How do you go about changing this? I mean, obviously, you can't. You're head of the schools. But what do you think? DUNCAN: Well, I think, again, just the availability of guns is absolutely crazy here. The mayor has worked so hard on this. But why should people have assault weapons. We had a young girl killed last year, AK-47 bullet, goes in the window, 7:30 in the morning, in her living room. She falls dead.
We have to get the guns off the streets. We have to put people behind bars who have guns and shouldn't have them. It should be an automatic felony.
And why should people have the right to buy 100 guns at a time? Just some very common sense things to reduce the number of guns and take them out of the people's hands who should not have them.
COOPER: It's obviously a very contentious issue. You know, some -- a lot of the kids, though -- not the majority, but some of these kids are not getting shot. They're getting strangled and they're getting stabbed. Is there -- is there a culture of violence that's the problem?
DUNCAN: Overwhelming majority are kids who have been shot dead. And again, this is a national issue, whether it's, you know, Chicago, whether it's Columbine, Virginia Tech.
What's the common denominator to this massive tragedy? It's guns. People should not have guns.
This doesn't happen in other countries. I spent four years in Australia. Doesn't happen in Australia. Doesn't happen in Japan. Doesn't happen in England. Why? Because they value their children more than we do here in America.
COOPER: You think that's true? You think America doesn't value its kids?
DUNCAN: I'm absolutely convinced our priorities are 100 percent out of whack. Somehow, this is an acceptable level of loss. And I'm trying to say it's absolutely unacceptable.
COOPER: Do you think that the fact that it is happening to African-Americans affects the way people see it, that other people who see it in the paper, "Oh, a young black kid has been killed," and they immediately write it off?
DUNCAN: I do. And it's a tough to say. We've lost 21 students in 40 weeks who have been shot dead in Chicago. That's a child every two weeks. That's a staggering number.
And just think. If that happened in one of Chicago's wealthiest suburbs, and God forbid it ever did. But if there's a child being shot dead every two weeks in Hinsdale or Natka (ph) or Barrington, do you think the status quo would remain? There's no way it would. All hell would break loose.
COOPER: And yet it still continues here. Twenty-eight deaths so far. Arne Duncan, appreciate your being with us. Thanks for all of your hard work.
A lot more ahead. Just ahead, more voices from Chicago on the violence that is destroying so many young lives. Who and what's to blame, and what's it going to take to stop the killing? We'll try to look into that.
In the next hour, we'll hear from young Chicagoans who have beaten the odds so far, kids from here on the South Side. They live in fear for their lives. It is a round table you don't want to miss, next, as we're live from Chicago. We continue.
COOPER: According to the Brady campaign, nearly 2,000 kids and teens were murdered by guns in the U.S. in 2004. Here in Chicago, there are gangs and gun violence which are surging in some neighborhoods. As we've been telling you, many of the victims are kids.
Guns on the streets may be just part of the problem behind the bloodshed.
CNN's Gary Tuchman tonight is "Keeping Them Honest".
TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's 8 p.m.
PHILLIP HAMPTON, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Watch it all the way in your glove.
TUCHMAN: Sunset baseball practice and a coach who wants his kids to stay alive. Phillip Hampton, who is also the director of community relations for Chicago's public schools, believes sports help keep kids out of trouble and blames a lack of morals and adult guidance for contributing to youth violence.
HAMPTON: You have to say am I doing the best? Am I providing the kind of level of support that our children need?
TUCHMAN: But support doesn't come with guarantees. Seventeen- year-old Christopher Pineda (ph) was murdered in March, his body found in a canal. There was no known motive or suspects. He lived with a doting mother and siblings and was to graduate high school next week.
INGRID PINEDA, VICTIM'S SISTER: You know, you just want to see him come home again. So you still can't believe he's not with you.
TUCHMAN: We asked Chicagoans to reflect on what's causing all this.
The violent video game and music culture gets mentioned often. So does the continuing demolition of Chicago housing projects, which displaces poor families. And the head of the police gang intelligence unit will tell you easy access to weapons is a problem that doesn't go away.
COMMANDER NICHOLAS ROTI, CHICAGO POLICE: The guns are a tool used by gangs to further their agenda.
TUCHMAN: Reverend Jesse Jackson led a protest outside a suburban Chicago gun shop that's been named a defendant in gun suits filed by the city.
John Riggio is the store's manager.
JOHN RIGGIO, GUN STORE MANAGER: Well, I've never actually seen a firearm shoot by itself.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: People should be able to buy guns to hunt, guns on reservations, done in restrictive conditions. But you don't hunt deer and rabbit with AK-47s.
TUCHMAN: Chicago police have a warehouse where they confiscate almost as many guns annually as much larger New York City.
(on camera) There are 70,000 plus illegal weapons in this room, including more than 11,000 that were confiscated in the calendar year 2006 alone.
One of them is this one. This is called a Mack 90 Sporter. It's an automatic rifle with a 30 round magazine. It's considered an assault weapon by Chicago police who don't exactly see much of a need for it in this city.
(voice-over) It's not just guns; they're used. And that's why this police commander feels there is a different common denominator.
ROTI: I would say there's now a general lack for respect of authority that is more than it used to be.
TUCHMAN: Will the trend improve in this city? The people who love these children can only hope so.
TUCHMAN: The Pineda family agrees with everything the experts told us. Their son and brother was not shot. He was not killed by a gun. He was beaten; he was beaten viciously.
But the family is very scared for their other children and grandchildren. Scared of guns, scared of gangs and also cared of the increasingly rude people they see in their neighborhood.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Gary, appreciate the reporting. We're going to have much more from Chicago in our next hour when our special report continues. Plus the man at the center of a global germ scare. He ignored doctors' advice, traveled overseas, knowing he could expose others to an extremely dangerous and contagious disease. Coming up, all the new developments on that.
Also, hundreds of young word wizards faced off in Washington. But only one conquered. And which one bagged the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Find out ahead on 360.
COOPER: CNN's Joe Johns joins us now with the "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Anderson, we start at the White House with President Bush meeting with Iraqi President Talabani, talking about benchmarks, the two leaders both stressing the need for progress on political and security reforms in Iraq.
After the meeting Mr. Bush said he'll send a top aide to Baghdad to push Iraqi leaders to accept benchmarks to help end the war.
Also on the Bush agenda today, a climate change on global warming. The president today calling for a worldwide goal of reducing greenhouse gases. The president says he'll present the proposal at next week's meeting of G-8 nations in Germany.
The closing bell on a mixed day on Wall Street. The S&P 500 climbing slightly but enough to nail a second straight all-time high. Also gaining, the NASDAQ by about 12 points. The Dow, though, bucking the trend upward, taking a 5 1/2 point tumble, due to a report of a sluggish first quarter GNP.
Also contributing to a slow trading day, layoffs in the works at Dell. The computer maker announcing plans to get rid of about 8,000 jobs.
And now, Anderson, can you spell nail biter? I bet this kid can. He's Evan O'Dorney, and when it came down to the wire less than an hour ago, the 13-year-old from Danville, California, summoned all his courage and emerged victorious in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Evans' winning word? Here, Anderson, you give it a try. Serrefine.
JOHNS: Need a hint? It means -- I didn't know this -- the small forceps used to hold an artery closed during surgery. Serrefine. Yes?
JOHNS: Serrefine. Starts with an "S."
COOPER: It does. Serrefine, you're saying, right? Right, right, right. S-E-R -- S-E-R-A-F-I-N.
JOHNS: And the buzzer sounds. All right. OK.
Let me find it here. It's S-E-R-R-E-F-I-N-E. And I would have never gotten that right. I didn't even know what it was.
COOPER: That was on the tip of my tongue.
Joe, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Our special coverage from Chicago continues tonight. And later, strange new developments in the case of the T.B. traveler.
In Chicago and around the world, you're watching 360.
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