‘Think of Hadiya,’ Emanuel says, urging aid in finding 15-year-old’s killer
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org January 30, 2013 1:47PM
Updated: January 30, 2013 5:50PM
An emotional Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday denounced the “punk” who cut down a bubbly 15-year-old girl who had just taken exams after returning from President Barack Obama’s second inaugural in Washington D.C.
Hadiya Pendleton, a student at King College Prep, was shot in the back Tuesday afternoon while hanging out with a group of friends at Harsh Park in Kenwood.
About a dozen kids were huddled under a canopy seeking shelter from the rain when a gunman jumped a fence, ran toward the students and opened fire.
A teenage boy was also shot in the leg during the attack.
On Wednesday, Emanuel made the gut-wrenching phone call that every mayor dreads. He reached out to Hadiya’s mother, Cleopatra, to console her on the unspeakable loss of a child.
“Nothing can break your heart more — and I did it just to call as a parent so they know they’re not alone. But, nothing pains you more than calling a fellow parent, trying to comfort them,” the mayor said haltingly, his voice filled with emotion.
“You read about Hadiya. ... You look at her. You look at how she talked about her future. She took her final exams. She had dreams. And this gang-banger, this punk took that away from Cleopatra. They took it away from Hadiya. ... They took it away from the city of Chicago. She is what is best in our city. A child going to school who takes a final exam, who had just been to the inaugural.”
The mayor then lapsed into what has become a familiar refrain: encouraging anyone with information about another senseless murder on Chicago streets to come forward and reveal what they know or saw.
“If anybody has any information, you are not a snitch. You’re a citizen. You’re a good citizen in good standing if you help. And I hope whoever has information comes forward and does that,” Emanuel said.
“I want everybody to take a moment and think of Cleopatra and her family and to think of Hadiya. ... The good news is [the boy who was shot] is eager to get back to school. The bad news is that Hadiya can’t. And it is incumbent upon all of us who have a responsibility to see a stop to this. And all of us are responsible — all adults.”
Chicago ended 2012 with 506 homicides, a 16 percent increase over the year before. January is off to a similarly bloody start, with seven murders over the weekend and three more Tuesday, all of them in broad daylight.
Emanuel said the answer to stopping the violence is a complex mix of investing more money in after-school programs and summer jobs; passing tougher gun laws and increasing penalties for gun crimes to the three-year average in New York instead of Chicago’s six months and “better policing and better tactics.” He refused to reveal specifics.
“As recently as this morning, I was at a meeting with [PoliceSupt.] Garry McCarthy going over what we need to do, what differences we have to do, what other tactics we have to adopt,” Emanuel said.
“But, it’s not just a policing issue. Those kids just took a final. They have a right to be able to be at a playground near their school [before] they go home.”
The mayor bristled when asked whether the fact that Hadiya was murdered less than a mile away from Obama’s Kenwood mansion was a “wake-up call” to him and McCarthy.
“While you may say it’s a mile from the president’s house, my view is it’s in the city of Chicago and, regardless of where it happens, it doesn’t matter,” the mayor said.
“As I’ve said repeatedly, you can’t be in Ravenswood and, if something happens in Roseland, say it’s only in Roseland. You can’t be in Sauganash and say if it happens in South Shore, it doesn’t affect me. It’s our city. These are our children.”