Obama & Chicago's Inner-City Violence (Part 1) : THE BLAME GAME

"We have to...change our politics so that we care just as much about those 30-something children in Chicago who have been shot as we do the children at Virginia Tech."


Five years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke those words in response to a question about gun violence posed at NAACP Democratic Candidates Forum in Detroit. It was just three months after the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech where 32 people lost their lives. In his adopted hometown of Chicago, the same number of public school students were killed in separate incidents. As the 2008 election approached, gun violence had become a major issue in Obama's presidential campaign. 

After his 2009 inauguration, other issues (to the chagrin of anti-violence activists) came to the forefront including health care reform and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As President Obama runs for re-election, those same activists are demanding that he makes their cause a priority this time.   

Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist and pastor of St. Sabina Church, made demands that the President address the issue of violence there and not just Colorado. 

According to journalist Chinta Strausberg, the 63-year-old priest delivered a fiery sermon last Sunday saying to Obama: "You will not ignore violence in Chicago!" 

He continued with his concerns about why the July 20 massacre in Aurora, Colorado, has received more presidential attention than the constant shootings in Chicago. 

"What happened in Colorado was tragic and horrific...but I'm trying to figure out twelve people got killed in Colorado and the nation stood still and everybody's speaking about. [Attorney General] Eric Holder comes in, but there are more than 12 killed every weekend in Chicago."

According to various news reports, the number of weekend killings is lower than Pfleger claims. While dozens of residents have been shot multiple weekends in a row, the fatality rate is typically less than half of that amount. However, the city of Chicago is still on track to see its highest homicide rate since 2003. 

Bill Watts, an insurance claims adjuster, feels that the problem of gun violence is too big for the President to solve. He says that it will take a combination of stronger communities and lawful gun ownership to help make things better. "It is up to the community to step up and show love to those who are in need of it," Watts says. "The President can't change what's in a person's heart." 

As Chicago prepares for the President's special birthday visit in two weeks, it is expected that he will be pressed to address gun violence in his own city. Yet, the question remains about whether he will. 

**UPDATE (11:26 PM): President Obama spoke about urban violence at  a National Urban League event in New Orleans this evening, according to the Chicago Tribune.

~ Zack The Producer 
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