As the nation mourns the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teen who just performed with the King College Prep High School drill team at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, the White House issued a statement expressing condolences, reports the Los Angeles Times.
“The president and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.
In response to inquiries about the official petition that has begun circulating, urging the president to return to Chicago to honor the brief life of the girl who performed for him just 10 days ago, Carney said that he had no knowledge of the petition nor of any scheduling changes.
The petition reads as follows and can be signed here:
As Newtown swirls down the memory hole and passion to implement safe gun control gets sidetracked by whatever the latest Congressional bulls**t circus will be, President Obama should stand up and take advantage of a tragic opportunity to keep the anti-gun violence movement engaged.
Sixteen-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a sophomore at the selective enrollment King College Prep, a young woman who performed in the King Band at Obama’s Second Inauguration, was shot to death Tuesday afternoon in a South Side Chicago park.
From the National Mall in the District of Columbia to Harsh Park in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Avenue. From the inauguration to the mortuary. In eight days…
Surely, if the president has time to respond to frivolous petitions ranging from Star Wars to Secessionists, he will make time for this.
When asked about Hadiya’s murder in an interview with Telemundo, the POTUS said “the problem is that a huge proportion of those guns come in from outside Chicago.”
Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel said that Hadiya’s senseless death is a loss for the city:
“She had dreams,” Emanuel said. “And these – this gang-banger, this punk – took that away from [her mother] Cleopatra, they took it away from Hadiya and, in my view, they took it away from the city of Chicago.”
“A child going to school, who takes a final exam, who had just been to inaugural,” said an emotional Emanuel. “And I think if anybody has any information, you are not a snitch, you’re a citizen. You’re a good citizen in good standing if you help.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, Hadiya had just finished taking final exams at school and was taking shelter from the rain with a group of students in Harsh Park — about one mile from Obama’s Southside home — when a gunman jumped a fence and shot at the group. Hadiya, fatally shot in the back, was an “unintentional target,” according to authorities.
“This guy, whoever he was, the gunman … you took the light of my life,” Hadiya’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said. “Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, there were many gang members in the park and no one in the group stayed to help after the shooting.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Wednesday, where he told attendees that Chicago confiscated 6 times the number of guns in New York City, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) said that the Inauguration was the “happiest day of [Hadiya's] young life.”
A separate petition created by the Black Youth Project on Change.org is demanding that President Obama address the city’s rampant gun problem, specifically in African-American communities. It reads, in part, as follows:
We know that President Obama cannot solve the issue of gun violence alone. However, he can call the nation to consciousness about the need for a response to this crisis.
President Obama rightly went to Newtown to comfort the families who lost children in that horrible tragedy. It is now time he came home to Chicago and comforted the over 500 families who lost loved ones to violence in the last year alone.
It is time he talked honestly with the nation about all the factors that threaten the lives of young Black and Latino youth; namely gun violence and the availability of guns, the absence of living wage jobs, the shortcomings of our public education system, the mass incarceration of young people, and yes, the bad choices that young people make sometimes.
All of these failures diminish the humanity of Black and Latino youth as well as the moral leadership of the nation.
We are facing a crisis that demands the leadership of our President.
Hadiya’s death occurred days after Chicago resident Shirley Chambers loss her 4th and last living child, Ronnie Chambers, to gun violence.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Chambers’ first child, Carlos, was shot and killed by a high school classmate in 1995 after an argument. He was 18. Her daughter Latoya, then 15, and her other son Jerome were shot and killed within months of one another in 2000. Ronnie was gunned down as he sat in a parked car on the city’s West side.
Kimberly Common lost her oldest son, Devin, to gun violence Tuesday afternoon — the same day as Hadiya’s death. He was 27-years-old. Common’s 23-year-old son Antonio was gunned down just 15 months ago.
Tragically, for the city of the Chicago, there is no “Saving Private Ryan” clause for domestic war-zones. As long as there are guns, our children will continue to be slaughtered — it doesn’t how matter how many mothers are left to mourn.
Hadiya was the 42nd homicide victim this year in Chicago, according to the Tribune. There have only been 31 days in the year thus far. The Bloody City is on track to have the highest homicide record since 2002.