Sunday brought a continued outcry in Chicago over the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, the honors student and band majorette who was shot and killed days after performing at the president’s inauguration ceremony. Rev. Jesse Jackson led a march Saturday from Pendleton’s King College Prep high school to the 4400 block of South Oakenwald where she was shot. Jackson and Chicago residents have requested the presence of President Obama as the city struggles to cope with a wave of gun violence, having suffered the deadliest January in a decade.
During a press conference Saturday, Jackson asked that the president “please come home,” and that his presence alone would “illuminate the condition.” A Chicago resident himself, Jackson acknowledged that the city’s problems extended beyond gun control, and fears that citizens “might be taking death for granted.”
“You cannot police poverty. You cannot police broken dreams, you cannot police aspirations,” Jackson said. “This cannot be dealt with on just a citywide level. We have drugs and guns coming in, and jobs going out. In most of the areas where these shootings are taking place, the unemployment rate is between 45 percent and 55 percent.”
The park where Pendleton was shot is just a mile from the Chicago home of the president, and her shooter is still at large. Police have offered a $40,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s arrest but have not named any suspects.
“We need to turn him in immediately. A person who shoots once will shoot again,” Rev. Michael Pfleger told reporters. “If we don’t turn him in, and there is no question there are a number of people who know, if he shoots again they should be tried for being an accessory to their crime. It’s not about snitching, it’s about life-saving.”
The Pendleton family announced that Hadiya will be laid to rest on Chicago’s South Side this weekend, with a visitation being held Friday, and a wake and funeral on Saturday.