Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was an honor student who according to her father hated and avoided violence.
But violence is relentless in how it methodically seeks out and destroys even those who want no part of it.
A 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends after school in bullet-scarred Chicago.
Hadiya Pendleton — described by family as a “walking angel” — was standing under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire and fled in a white car, police said.
Pendleton was shot in the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.
A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident. Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the intended target.
“Never in a million years did I think I would get a call that my own baby had been gunned down,” Pendleton’s mother, Cleo Cowley, said through tears from her Chicago home.
“As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy . . . He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” the victim’s godfather, Damon Stewart, 36, who is a police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”
A sophomore at selective King College Prep High School, Pendleton had traveled to Washington to perform with the band at inaugural events.
“It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on gun violence.
“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the shooting a “terrible tragedy” and said the Obamas were praying for Pendleton’s family.
Cousin Shatira Wilks said the inauguration trip was the talk of a family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even more excited about something else: plans to travel to Europe this spring with the band.
“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said. “Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any problems ever.”
The day after Hadiya died, another gun victim, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords went before a Senate committee to ask Congress to actually make a tough call instead of talking a problem to death.
“Speaking is difficult,” Giffords said slowly and haltingly, “But I need to say something important. Violence is a problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.”
Also speaking was NRA Executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre running his usual rap about how more laws and background checks won’t stop criminals and only impede the rights of law-abiding citizens. It’s subject to debate whether LaPierre was there to testify or check on how the NRA’s money is being spent. Eight of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have received campaign contributions from the NRA including all eight Republicans and Democratic chairman Patrick Leahy.
There is no reason to believe “something” will be done by anyone on Capitol Hill. Stand up to the gun lobby? Question the priorities of the NRA? Not from a Congress populated by dopes like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) who doesn’t believe the proliferation of guns is any sort of big deal.
“I’m going to wait and see on all of these bills,” Alexander said. “I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns.” Alexander, who is up for reelection in 2014 owns a 92 percent lifetime rating from the NRA.
Politicians that aren’t moved to action by White children killed in an elementary school, aren’t about to do anything for Black children killed on the streets of Chicago.
The day Hadiya died she was one of three to be gunned down in broad daylight in the Windy City.
In 2012, while crime fell in most major cities, over 500 people were murdered in Chicago.
Thus far in 2013, over 42 people have been killed, the most violent January since 2002. Seven people were slain on one bloody Saturday. Chicago is so segregated if you avoid the battle zones and stay in the nice neighborhoods and the tourist areas, you probably wouldn’t even notice they’re pulling bodies off the pavement two or three at a time. If this isn’t war in the streets, it sure is claiming a body count like one.
It’s one thing to live in a war zone in Syria or Afghanistan. It’s another to live and die in a war zone in a major American city. “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman…you took the life of my life, Nathaniel Pendleton said of his daughter, ” Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”
As young Black people are murdered by other young Black people, I wonder if there might be more of an outpouring of outrage if there were thousands of racist Klansmen behind the mass spilling of blood across the streets of America.
But I recall there is no law, no agency, no Constitutional right that can make someone respect human life. Self-hatred leads to self-destruction. I could paper the walls of my house with all the editorials, essays and columns I’ve written about young people like Hadiya. Apparently, I was writing those words for the wrong audience.
A petition has been created on the White House website requesting the president attend Hadiya’s funeral. He really should. She was there to commemorate his second term. Obama should be there to commemorate her premature demise. It’s not the most, but it’s certainly the least he can do.
I never knew you Hadiya, but I cried for you little sister. I’m crying for you now. Tears of pain. Tears of anger. Tears of bitterness. Tears of rage.
“You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”
~ James Baldwin
- The ‘terrible tragedy’ of Hadiya, the girl with an easy smile who was killed after being mistaken for a gang member (smh.com.au)
- Hadiya Pendleton is brought up during Senate gun control hearing (thegrio.com)
- Girl who performed for Obama shot dead in Chicago (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- White House Calls Girl’s Slaying a ‘Terrible Tragedy’ (hispanicbusiness.com)