Chicago Shudders As Murders Turn Routine

Olympics, Chicago
Dean Reynolds is a CBS News Correspondent based in Chicago.

Even if you want the 2016 Summer Olympics to be hosted by Chicago, you would have to acknowledge that this is not the best time to be talking up the Windy City's attributes. Yes, Chicago is a beautiful city. It has a magnificent lake front, one of the prettiest streets (Lake Shore Drive) in the country, a ready-to-go set of facilities including Soldier Field, McCormick Place and the United Center, where all sorts of Olympic contests could be held.

But no, there's something troubling going on in this city. Almost every day, it seems, my home copy of the Chicago Tribune informs me that somebody was murdered in the last 24 hours. That so many of them are kids is doubly troubling. Innocent bystanders caught in a gang cross-fire or perpetrators fleeing other predators, it happens all too often.

Now comes the cell phone video recording of an actual killing. The victim, 16-year-old Derrion Albert, happened to turn the wrong corner on the city's southwest side last week when he was set upon by a mob. Apparently his sin was to refuse to join a gang. The beating he suffered as a result was sadistic.

"I can tell you obviously that the reports of and the video that we have seen on television is among the most shocking that you can ever see," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "The killing of an honor student by others, who was beaten to death is chilling, chilling video."

So while it's great for the city to have President Obama personally lobbying the Olympic officials in Copenhagen, it would be hard for him - or anybody --to say why all the carnage, including bloodshed that is happening not all that far from his south side home and the Washington Park greensward that would become a new 80,000 seat stadium for track and field events.

Thirty-four Chicago public school students were killed in the last school year. Four have been killed this month. After each one there are there is a round of soul-searching, a vow by the mayor not to stand for any more of it, and a redoubling of police efforts to secure neighborhoods that are the antithesis of security.

When we asked Shawn Gaudin why he drove his son to school, he said it just wasn't safe to walk to the bus stop. And he said more, while shaking his head ruefully:

"Our president and our mayor are over in Copenhagen - in Denmark - when right here we have savagery going on in the streets of Chicago."

"Savagery in the streets of Chicago." Not exactly a winning slogan for the Olympics bid, is it?

Maybe, just maybe, the Summer Olympics would force some hitherto untried action to address the problem. If only to save the Windy City from further embarrassment.

By Dean Reynolds:
CBS News Correspondent