“President Barack Obama returned to Chicago for a few hours Friday to address the high-profile gun violence that continues to plague his hometown and suggested the solution is not only more gun laws, but community intervention and economic opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods,” John Byrne and Dahleen Glanton reported Friday for the Chicago Tribune.
“The president didn’t delve into his specific call for an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures, instead choosing to illustrate Chicago’s plight by comparing it to the December elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were shot. . . .”
Obama was responding not only to local residents but also to commentators who urged a personal visit by the president. Last weekend, first lady Michelle Obama attended the Chicago funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a baton twirler who participated last month in Obama’s inauguration. She was shot and killed on Jan. 29 not far from the Obamas’ Chicago residence after being caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs. Her parents attended Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
“. . . Obama’s Chicago, our Chicago, is unhinged now, and rightly embarrassed,” Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote on Wednesday. “The street slaughter won’t subside. . . .”
On Friday, Darlene Superville wrote for the Associated Press, “Obama sought support for proposals, unveiled this week in his State of the Union address, to increase the federal minimum wage and ensure every child can attend preschool. He also pitched plans to pair businesses with recession-battered communities to help them rebuild and provide job training. . . .”
Glanton prepared for the Obama visit by interviewing a dozen teenage African American boys at the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, youths “most likely to be hit by the gunfire that occurs almost daily in neighborhoods like Roseland, Englewood and Lawndale.” They told Glanton that Obama can have little effect on gangs.
“. . . While all of the young men at the community center said they had respect for the first African-American president, they noted that it would be difficult for anyone to penetrate the culture of violence,” Glanton wrote.
” ‘People look up to Mr. Obama more than he knows, but the one thing they need is their guns,’ said Latwon Rufus, 18. ‘It’s about revenge, reputation and territory. That’s the city of Chicago.’ “