As President Obama presses Congress for nearly $4 billion to aid the humanitarian crisis caused by tens of thousands of children flooding into the U.S. to escape gang violence in Central America, angry Black activists in Chicago called on the president to give equal attention to their city, where African-American communities have been subsumed by gang violence in recent years.
To highlight their displeasure with Obama, protesters held a rally on Friday in front of Chicago police headquarters. The protest was covered by a site Rebel Pundit, which also posted YouTube video of Chicago residents blasting Obama, who has spent much of his adult life in the city.
“Barack will go down as the worth president ever elected,” one protester said. “President Barack needs to pay attention to Chicago. If he cannot pay attention to Chicago and the African-American community, he needs to resign.”
The Rebel Pundit story pointed out that there have been 120 people shot and at least 26 killed in Chicago just in July. The protest was prompted by the recent shooting of Jasmine Curry, a pregnant mother of five, killed on Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway.
In an appearance on Fox News, Rev. Jesse Jackson also questioned Obama’s priorities, though he stopped short of accusing the president of neglect.
“I think getting support to those children in a humanitarian crisis is moral and the right thing to do,” Jackson said. “Those resources are very important. But there’s also a crisis in Chicago. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. We cannot turn our backs on those children. To me, we need a comprehensive plan here at home as well. I don’t think it’s time to slam anybody. We cannot turn our backs on the children at the border.”
Though the White House hasn’t responded to the Chicago protesters, Obama supporters would likely point to initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper, which is intended to uplift African-American males, to show that he is thinking deeply about the plight of urban youth. They might also point out the millions of dollars he has invested in urban communities around the country trying to replicate educator Geoffrey Canada’s comprehensive reform program, the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York.
But if you’re comparing the scale of initiatives, the $200 million – $300 million slated for My Brother’s Keeper, and the millions for the HCZ projects pale in comparison to the $3.7 billion the president is seeking to stem the flood of children trying to escape violence in their Central American home.
However, it should be pointed out that Republicans in Congress thus far have balked at the size of the president’s request.
It is ironic that the attacks on Obama come from residents in his hometown Chicago, where he has enjoyed overwhelming support. The president is unlikely to make any moves in Chicago that will reflect badly on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff—but the city’s residents long ago gave up any hope that Emanuel will solve their problems.