The death of Hadiya Pendleton has ignited a political firestorm in the city of Chicago, where the girl was murdered. Shot in a neighborhood that is not normally associated with gang violence, the girl’s death has become a symbol of growing homicide rate in the city of Chicago. There are national petitions being circulated calling for President Barack Obama to come to Chicago to speak on the matter, or to attend the young woman’s funeral.
A friend of Hadiya’s said that the girl was “smiling and making jokes” right before she was shot in a park that was less than a mile from the home of President Obama. Pendleton had just performed at the President’s inauguration the week before, and was in good spirits. One of the girl’s friends said that after she was shot, Pendleton looked up at her friend and asked her if she’d been hit.
“She asked me if she got shot,” Hadiya’s friend said. “And I said, ‘Yes.’ And she didn’t say anything else.”
The shooting took place in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park, at 2:30 in the afternoon. Pendleton was a 15-year old sophomore and honor student at King Prep Academy. She was shot in the back while another student was shot in the leg. A third victim suffered a graze wound.
The students had been let out of school early because of final exams. Normally, Pendleton would have been at band practice, but due to finals, she was waiting for her mother to pick her up.
“We were just hanging out because it was so nice outside,” her friend said.
The gunman came out of a nearby alley and everyone started to run away.
“I didn’t even think of trying to look at him because I was just trying to run,” she said.
Hadiya died partly because she wasn’t able to get away fast enough. She tried to run, but stumbled, and her friends stayed by her side to help her once she was hit by a bullet.
“Hadiya starting stumbling and falling as she was running and we were trying to help her up,” she said. “She couldn’t hold herself up. She was like a ragdoll when she fell.”
“That’s not true at all,” she said. “Most of the people there were in the marching band, so none of us are gang-related.”
Father Michael Pfleger, head of the St. Sabina Church on the south side of Chicago, is calling for there to be increased attention on the violence problems being faced in Chicago and similar communities. Pfleger expressed his outrage on his Facebook page Monday morning:
“It’s time to DEMAND that President Obama come Chicago and bring the resources of the Federal Government! He needs to deliver a MAJOR URBAN POLICY ADDRESS dealing with Jobs, education, unemployment, mass incarceration, poverty, guns and violence!!! We need a full court press of City,State,entertainers, athletes, parents, community, Houses of faith and YES THE PRESIDENT! THIS IS A MATTER OF HOMELAND SECURITY!!!”
Rev. Jesse Jackson has joined the chorus of calls for President Obama to intervene in Chicago in the same way he did in Connecticut and Colorado. Rev. Jackson says that Homeland Security should get involved, and that the challenges being faced by inner city youth should be part of the president’s agenda.
Dr. Boyce Watkins agrees with Pfleger’s assessment. In an article on YourBlackWorld.net, Dr. Watkins sarcastically states that black people have been deceived into believing that true equality exists in America.
“I find it astonishing that some feel it makes sense for other communities to speak to the president about their challenges, but black people cannot do the same. This kind of nonsense needs to be stamped out where it stands, for it is nothing more than an artifact of racism. This girl’s precious life is every bit as valuable as those kids at Sandy Hook and we must force others to acknowledge the same.”