CHICAGO – Long-time civil rights activist Jesse Jackson recently wrote an open letter to President Obama regarding the high homicide rates in Chicago. In fact, the homicides rates are astronomical, with more than 560 people being killed in the city in the last 13 months alone. Just last week, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who performed at Obama’s inauguration, was sadly amongst those gunned down in Chicago.
Many have been criticizing Obama for not yet going to Chicago to address the issue directly, and offer hope for the local communities – the same way he did to the residents of Newton, Connecticut when 20+ children were killed at an elementary school.
Here are some snippets of Jesse Jackson’s letter:
Chicago is in a state of emergency. Lives are being lost. Fear is growing. Local officials, ministers and community activists are working diligently but cannot break the cycle. We’re seeing more than one funeral a day. Our children are traumatized. Many are afraid to go to school.
In this crisis, we need the president’s leadership. President Obama can provide the knowledge, vision and inspiration to bring us together to address the crisis. He can speak to the children to calm their fears.
Mr. President, as you know, last week, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, an honor student who performed in your inaugural ceremonies as a majorette, was murdered, slain when a gunman shot randomly into a group of kids gathered in a neighborhood park less than one mile from your home.
He goes on to say:
Mr. President, you inspired America with your inaugural call to honor the promise of Martin Luther King. In Newtown and in your gun-violence proposals, you have shown the courage it requires to lead.
After Hadiya’s shooting, more police were pledged to patrol the streets. But as you know from your time on these streets, Mr. President, you cannot police poverty. You cannot police broken dreams or shattered aspirations. Chicago has strong gun laws, but it cannot stop the flow of guns and drugs coming in and jobs going out.
His letter ends:
Come home, Mr. President, your city needs you