Gun-Plagued Chicago: Won’t You Come Home, President Obama?

Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Andrew Holmes hands out flyers offering a $40,000 reward for the arrest of the killer of Hadiya Pendleton, on Feb. 2, 2013 in Chicago.

As gun violence plagues Chicago, an editorial and a news story in President Barack Obama’s hometown newspapers this week have called on him to come home to help address the city’s shootings and murder problem.

An editorial in today’s Chicago Sun-Times suggests Obama hasn’t paid enough attention to the violence in his home city.

“Two days after the mass murder at a school in Newton, Conn., President Barack Obama flew there to console the families and call for stricter gun control,” the editorial says. “How many more children must die in Chicago before the president does the same here?”

In yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, a news story reported on a growing chorus in the community for the president to come to Chicago to speak about the violence in his city.

“What began as gentle pleas for a little attention from the White House has turned into demands that the president hop on Air Force One,” the story said. “In African-American communities where gun violence is rampant, people want something extra from the first black president. They want him to say publicly to young men, as one black man to another: Put down your guns.”

The Jan. 29 fatal shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton a mile from Obama’s South Side home has heightened those calls in a city that saw more than 500 killings in 2012 and more than 40 in January alone. Pendleton had attended Obama’s inauguration in Washington, boosting her connection to the president.

“We understand why Obama might be reluctant to use Chicago as a stage to rally the nation against urban violence, despite the beseeching of community leaders,” the Sun Times editorial said. “It wouldn’t do to embarrass his good friend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

Some community leaders are even calling on Obama to travel to Chicago this weekend for Pendleton’s funeral.

Whether there are any plans to gas up Air Force One for that trip is hard to know. But here’s guessing that, if he doesn’t make the trip, the girl at least gets a saddened shout-out during next week’s State of the Union address.

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