Killing Black Teens - Literally
George E. Curry | 2/13/2013, 2:23 p.m.
The death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student at King College Prep High School on Chicago's South Side is finally receiving the national attention that it deserves. An honor student and majorette in her school's marching band, Hadiya had recently participated in President Obama's inaugural parade in the nation's capital.
After leaving school on Jan. 29, Hadiya was shot and killed in a park after she and friends sought shelter under a canopy when it began raining. She was killed about a mile from Obama's Chicago home. Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, summed up his loss this way: "They took the light of my life...She was destined for great things and you stripped that from her."
First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett attended Hadiya's funeral on Saturday. Her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, was a guest of the Obamas at Tuesday's State of the Union address. The president is scheduled to visit Chicago on Friday where he will deliver a major address on gun violence that is certain to contain a mention of Hadiya. It's fitting that Obama return to his adopted home town to make his case against deadly violence.
According to statistics analyzed by the Chicago Reporter, more young people are killed in Chicago than any other city in the nation. More than 530 people under 21 years old have been killed since 2008 - most of them in Black and Brown neighborhoods - while hundreds of others have been injured. According to the newspaper, nearly 80 percent of youth homicides occur in 22 Black or Latino neighborhoods on the city's South, Southwest and West sides, even though those communities represent only one-third of Chicago's population."
Young people are not only the victims of gun violence - they are usually the ones who pull the trigger.
"From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago's 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthday. In 2011, the most recent year for which the data were available, more than 56 percent of individuals who committed murder were also under 25. One-third of Chicago residents are under 25, according to 2011 Census estimates," the Chicago Reporter states. "And despite various police strategies and community efforts, things are getting worse. Last year, 243 people under 25 were killed in Chicago. That's an 11 percent increase over 2011 and a 26 percent jump from 2010."
Chicago homicides are not limited to the youth.
The Reporter also noted, "In 2012, not only did Chicago lead the nation in homicides, it witnessed nearly 100 more murders than New York City, even though the Big Apple has three times as many residents. And Chicago witnessed 215 more murders than Los Angeles - home to more than a million more people."
Because of highly-publicized mass murders - including shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.; a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; Fort Hood, Texas and Virginia Tech - much of the gun debate has centered on reducing or eliminating access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.