Keeping the nation’s focus on the young victims of gun violence, Rev. Jesse Jackson is leading a march in Chicago today to the park where 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was fatally shot just a week after she performed at President Obama’s inauguration.
As Chicago law enforcement officials and community leaders cajole the community into providing information to help find the killer — raising the reward to $40,000 —Hadiya’s pastor said the family hasn’t yet received word on whether Obama will respond to the petition drive for him to attend the girl’s funeral.
But the pastor, Rev. Courtney Maxwell of Greater Deliverance Temple, said Obama did call the family earlier in the week, shortly after the girl was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon while she was hanging out with friends.
Gun-control advocates are trying to keep the nation’s attention focused on the issue in the wake of the December massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders were gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The president has twice mentioned the ongoing carnage in Chicago during speeches as he tries to push gun control legislation — and he put handgun measures in the legislation specifically to impact cities like Chicago. However, many African-Americans have been calling on Obama to get more personally involved in the case of Hadiya.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, announcing the increase in the reward money, challenged the community to do the right thing.
“If that [the reward] doesn’t do it, then maybe we should look at our consciences,” McCarthy said.
The police superintendent called out to the person who may have driven the shooter away to do “the morally correct thing” and step forward with information. He also thanked members of the community for passing out fliers to prompt people to call the police with information. Police are trying to break through an orthodoxy in many communities that pressures people not to “snitch.”
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“The fact is, we need more help,” McCarthy said.
Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church, said it’s time for the community to police itself, according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This is a civil community, and unless the rest of us speak up and be courageous and do the right thing, we will let a minority cause us to all live in fear,” he said. “…Anyone who is harboring a shooter in their home, whether it’s relatives or friends, you are just as guilty as the person who pulled the trigger.”
Rev. Jackson’s march today is scheduled to start at the headquarters for Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and end at the park where Hadiya, an honor student and drum majorette at King College Prep High School, was killed.