Hadiya Pendleton dies as Chicago’s homicide toll rises to 42
About three months ago, I wrote about a segment I had seen on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. Sawyer and Alex Perez, a Chicago native, highlighted the gang violence that has plagued the city. The city of Chicago had over 500 homicides last year. There were more homicides in Chicago than deaths in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, a 15-year-old girl was shot to death, making it the most deadly month of January since 2002.
Gary McCarthy, Chicago’s Police Superintendent, defended his crime prevention strategies. He found these homicides, “disappointing.” In a press conference he said: “You don’t throw out everything you’re doing because you had a bad couple of days. And unfortunately today’s (Tuesday) a bad day, too.”
University of Chicago criminologist Jens Ludwig said a plausible explanation for the woeful January homicide numbers could be the budget problems confronting cities throughout the country. Emanuel’s budget for 2013 calls for the hiring of an additional 500 police officers, but the police union has contended that numbers falls far short of the void created by cops retiring (Chicago Tribune). Ludwig thinks big cities like Chicago should get help from the federal government.
At the press conference Tuesday, McCarthy continued to emphasize that Chicago police are removing more illegal guns from the streets than authorities in any other major city in the U.S. During the first three weeks of January, he said, two of Chicago’s 22 police districts seized more illegal guns than were collected in all of New York City (Chicago Tribune).
McCarthy thinks that is because New York City is tougher on penalizing gun infractions. He says: “When people get caught with (illegal) guns in New York, they go to jail…as a result they’re not carrying guns with impunity.”
One of the girls killed on Tuesday was Hadiya Pendleton. Hadiya was a 15-year-old King College Prep high School student. She had in fact just visited Washington D.C. where she performed with the school band for President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Hadiya decided to go to the park with some friends. At 2:30 in the afternoon she was shot to death.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Pendleton was not part of a gang, but most of the teens that were fired upon appear to be gang members, according to authorities. NONE of the teens near Hadiya stayed to help her or wait for help.
Shortly after last year’s town hall meeting (same link as one above) initiated by Father Flagger and Diane Sawyer the number of deaths subsided. Unfortunately it was short-lived. I find McCarthy’s comments incredulous. No Mr. McCarthy, this isn’t a bad day. It’s been a series of bad days. A series of bad months. Whatever you are doing isn’t working.
I also don’t understand why President Obama hasn’t been more vocal, at least in the media, on the surging death toll in his hometown. I guess it may not be fair to expect him to do anything since this is Mayor Emanuel’s responsibility. I just figured something more drastic would have been done.
Some people think the warm weather is the culprit. Others think it’s the fact that Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the nation. They think that if law-abiding citizens were able to carry a weapon, in a concealed fashion, it would dissuade the violence. These deaths are gang related. I doubt that would do anything. Although I don’t really see the problem of citizens being able to legally carry a weapon.
It saddens me that my hometown is experiencing this absurdity. I will never understand the selfishness of these gang members. There are so many innocent children dying because they want to get revenge. It’s a never-ending circle. Chances are that by the end of today, someone else will have died in Chicago because of senseless gun violence.
How do you think this issue should be addressed?
Why do you think there has been such a spike in violence these past 13 months?
Should big cities get help from the federal government?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate