On May 10, Mayor Emanuel was joined by Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair to announce the expansion of a school-based vision program in CPS starting next week thanks to a $1 million investment made directly from the FY 2013 City Budget. With this program, 30,000 CPS students who failed vision screenings this year will have access to free vision exams and eyeglasses, if needed.
“A budget is a reflection of our city’s values and there is no better investment than one in the children of Chicago. Through this investment, we are more than tripling the number of CPS students who receive free eye exams, and providing glasses to those who need them,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Working in partnership with parents, we can ensure that our students have the tools they need to excel, including the quality vision care that gives them the ability to see the blackboard and also more clearly see the bright future that is ahead of them.”
Last year, 200,000 CPS students were provided vision screenings; 30,000 of these failed that screening and were recommended to receive a comprehensive vision exam. Due to either a lack of access, information or resources, most of these 30,000 students did not receive the necessary vision exam or fitting for glasses.
Through the 2013 City budget, the City is investing $1 million to close this gap of 30,000 students and establish a CDPH Vision Program to complement CPS’ existing vision program. Among all school-age children, seventeen to twenty-five percent have vision problems that are significant enough to impair their academic performance.
“Academic performance can improve when a student’s basic vision needs are addressed, and we are deeply committed to working with parents to ensure the health and wellness of our children,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, CDPH Commissioner. “With this collaboration, we will continue working to make Chicago the healthiest city in the country.”
“Innovative services like this are another example of how we can make sure our students have the resources they need for success,” said Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chief Health Officer for Chicago Public Schools. “Better vision can lead to better educational outcomes, so we’re happy to offer this program to our students.”
Through this collaboration between CDPH and CPS, which launches May 15, 2013, 9 additional doctors will begin providing school-based services and glasses fittings for students. School-based eye exams will continue through the end of the school year and then resume when school starts again in August.
Robin Kelly has won the race to Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District seat, defeating GOP nominee Paul McKinley by a margin of 80 percent (at press time) in the special election to fill vacancy left by former U.S. Congressman, Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Kelly, a former state representative who spoke out against and quickly became the voice for gun control during the special election primary, gained huge momentum when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC poured $2 million into anti-gun television ads, won the special Feb. 23, 2013 primary with 54 percent of the vote in the very crowded race.
Kelly has championed gun control and the limiting of gun violence throughout her campaign, previously applying pressure to her political opponents in both the Democratic primary and in the general election to reveal their stance and voting record on gun control legislation and the organizations they have supported.
Already armed with heavyweight endorsements including those of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (Dist. 1st) and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (Dist. 7th), Kelly more than sealed the deal by picking up President Barack Obama’s endorsement last week.
“I share Robin’s passionate advocacy to end gun violence with common sense solutions because like her, I believe families impacted by gun violence—especially in my home city of Chicago, deserve a vote,” Obama said of Kelly. “As a member of Congress, Robin will help us get that vote and that’s why I urge you to elect Robin Kelly as your representative in the United States Congress.”
Kelly has known President Obama for years dating back to their time working together in the Illinois state legislature.
Robin Kelly has a history of serving the citizens of Illinois in several different offices; she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2003 to 2007; served as the Chief of Staff to Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in 2007; and in 2011 Kelly was appointed Chief administrative Officer for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle before quitting to run for Congressional office.
McKinley, Kelly’s Republican and primary opponent, is a convicted ex-felon who served 20 years in state prison for 6 felony counts of armed robberies, burglaries, and aggravated battery. McKinley won the Republican primary over Eric Wallace of Flossmoor, IL by a reported 23 votes. McKinley’s key campaign message was that he would fight ‘Machine controlled-Democrats’ if elected. McKinley stated on his campaign website, “I’m not running against a candidate, I’m running against the Machine.”
By Lee Edwards
A high profile former prosecutor is beginning a new career with a Hyde Park university after stepping down last June from his Illinois District U.S. Attorney post.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who spearheaded investigations leading to the convictions of two Illinois governors, is now the inaugural Steven Feirson Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Chicago (U of C) Law School, according to a press release announcement.
“I am thrilled to become part of the University of Chicago community, Fitzgerald said via press release.
Fitzgerald added he is looking forward to teaching this spring and interacting with extraordinary students and faculty members.
“I am particularly delighted to do so as part of a lectureship named for Steven Feirson, for whom I have great regard,” Fitzgerald said.
First to hold the Feirson Lectureship, named for alumnus Steven B. Feirson, JD’75, Fitzgerald will lecture on an ongoing basis in spring 2013 and also co-teach a course on national security law with at least one class every year going forward.
“Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most respected and skilled attorneys of his generation,” said U of C Law School, Dean Michael Schill, the Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law, via the press release.
Fitzgerald has already been involved with the U of C Law School, having served as keynote speaker for the 2012 symposium of the University of Chicago Legal Forum on “Combatting Corruption” and as an honored speaker at other student events.
Schill expects Fitzgerald’s involvement in the curricular and co-curricular activities of the Law School will only grow stronger as a result of his assuming the Feirson Lectureship.
“His unimpeachable ethics, extraordinary brilliance and astounding work ethic make him one of the finest public servants this country has ever known,”Schill said.
Fitzgerald served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for more than a decade and presided over investigations leading to the convictions of Illinois Govs., George Ryan for racketeering and fraud and Rod Blagojevich for public corruption.
Previously, Fitzgerald served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the Organized Crime-Terrorism Unit in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In addition to other terrorism cases, Fitzgerald participated in the prosecution of United States v. Usama Bin Laden, in which the defendants received four guilty verdicts and four life sentences on various offenses, including conspiracy to murder United States nationals overseas and the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania.
In October 2012, Fitzgerald became a partner in the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Established with a generous endowment gift from Feirson in 2013, the Lectureship is a way to attract distinguished practicing lawyers to teach courses and become involved with the Law School.
Currently, a partner at Dechert LLP, Feirson serves as a deputy chair of the firm and is a member of its Policy Committee where he focuses his practice on securities and financial services litigation and corporate governance arenas.
“The Law School continues to occupy a very special place in the field of legal education,” said Feirson via press release.
U of C students will benefit immeasurably from Fitzgerald’s presence at the Law School Schill said.
As for the now vacant U.S. Attorney position, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent the White House a list of four finalists that include four former federal prosecutors: Jonathan Bunge, Zach Fardon, Lori Lightfoot (an African American woman), and Gil Soffer.
By Deborah Bayliss
The Chicago Election Board mailed notices to 120,000 voters on the City’s South and Southeast Sides for the April 9, 2013 Special Election in the 2nd Congressional District.
The mailing provides information on each voter’s Precinct Polling Place for April 9, as well as information on Early Voting and Absentee Voting.
“We are reminding all of our voters that they have a duty and responsibility to select a new member of Congress to represent the 2nd Congressional District,” said Election Board Chairman Langdon D. Neal. “We want every voter to know about this Special Election and all of the options for casting a ballot.”
The Second District includes 170 precincts on the South Side of Chicago. The district also covers areas of South Suburban Cook, Will and Kankakee counties.
The distinctive red-white-and-blue mail pieces feature the Postal Service’s “Official Election Mail” logo and include information on:
The Polling Place for Election Day for the Precinct where the household is located.
All Early Voting sites and hours. There are five early voting sites. Each site is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sat., April 6.
Voters who want to vote absentee by mail must submit applications by Thurs., April 4. In-person absentee voting will be available Sun., April 7 and Mon., April 8 at the Election Board, 69 W. Washington.
Information on polling places, Early Voting, Absentee Voting and sample ballots also can be found at www.chicagoelections.com or by calling (312) 269-7900.
NOTE: Chicago voters may text their simplified addresses (example: 1234 E 83 St ) to 312-361-8846. The Election Board system then will reply with a text of the April 9 polling place for that address. Only voters in the Second District are eligible to vote in this election.
This system also will tell the voter if their address is not in the 2nd Congressional District.
In a last minute decision that caught a noted, high profile figure by surprise, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) pulled its funding from an upcoming event, where Minister Lewis Farrakhan would have been the keynote speaker, citing student opposition and anti-Semitism for its decision.
“Without expressing any disdain toward the university, several other organizations have been eager to host the event, so we’ll just find another venue,” remarked Dr. Boyce Watkins in an Op Ed piece on the matter.” “I couldn’t help but see this incident as a reminder of how black self-sufficiency contrasts with our 400-year old American tradition of protecting white supremacy.”
Co-owner of the Your Black World Network and noted finance professor at Syracuse University, Watkins was responding to UIC’s stance against Farrakhan’s involvement in the forum.
UIC claims to have received a slew of complaints from students about Farrakhan’s appearance there as well as complaints about the forum’s title in its decision that comes just weeks after Min. Farrakhan addressed more than 20,000 people during the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviors’ Day at the UIC Pavilion, covering a variety of topics during a three-hour address from current events to race relations and an economic plan calling for African Americans to invest in land.
Farrakhan reportedly reached out to gang leaders during the speech asking for assistance in protecting the Nation of Islam’s interests.
Bill Burton with UIC’s media department said the Black Student Union at the university cancelled the event but could not clarify and verify and information beyond that.
Dr. Watkins organized the March 30 community forum titled Wealth, Education, Family, & Community: A New Paradigm for Black America and invited Min. Farrakhan as a featured guest speaker because of the Nation of Islam’s track record of community engagement in Chicago.
Designed to provide strategic action points to members of the community in an effort to resolve pressing matters directly impacting African- Americans, the forum is part of Dr. Watkin’s Building Outstanding Men and Boys (B.O.M.B.) Family Empowerment Series.
Watkins, also known as “The People’s Scholar,” is one of the leading African-American financial scholars and social commentators in America and has published a multitude of scholarly articles and social commentary on reputable global platforms and makes regular appearances on CNN, BET, MSNBC, Fox News, and additional mainstream television, radio, and online networks to discuss politics, finances, education, and social issues that affect the African-American community.
The new venue for the event is still to be determined. Poet Madam Prezident is scheduled to open the forum.
By Deborah Bayliss
Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, who was accused of not declaring money spent on gambling as income last year, sat on trial Friday as federal prosecutors laid out details against him that involved questionable accounting practices and gambling losses.
Prosecutors sought to prove Beavers diverted about $225,000 from his campaign funds and spent it for personal use — primarily on gambling and without reporting much of it as income on his 2006-2008 federal tax return as required by law.
According to the Associated Press, Beavers cashed multiple four-figure checks from his campaign to himself and then gambled the money away on slot machines at a feverish pace — sometimes within hours on a single day — an Internal Revenue Service agent testified on Monday at the commissioner’s trial.
Beavers showed no emotion on Friday as his defense team led by attorney Sam Adam Jr., listened as prosecutors presented their case against the 78-year-old, starting out with Andy Nauman of the Illinois State Board of Elections who discussed what candidates could use campaign funds for prior to and after the Campaign Disclosure rule change in 1998.
Prosecutors also questioned Beavers’, 48-year-old, assistant, Vetrice Coleman, who was also treasurer of his three campaign committees, on the method used in filling out campaign contributions and expenditures reports.
Coleman said she has worked for Beavers for about 15 years including the time he served as 7th Ward Alderman on Chicago’s south side. She admitted on the stand there were times Beavers would write a check and not tell her what it was for.
“If there was no receipt or purpose, I would put the check on the outstanding list,” Coleman said in response to questions from the prosecution. “I would tell him I need a receipt or clearance before putting a check on the (disclosure) report.”
Asked by the prosecution if there were times she would not receive an explanation for a check, Coleman replied yes.
Coleman testified that in the beginning she would write “void” on a cancelled check which meant the money from a check that Beavers wrote to himself had been paid back into campaign funds and so therefore she did not enter it into the campaign disclosure system.
She no longer uses that system she said, and now writes “reimbursed to the bank” on cancelled checks.
When prosecutors asked how Coleman knew a check was later reimbursed, she said Beavers would tell her or she would look through the bank statements. Coleman also admitted she did not include a reimbursed check on the disclosure reporting form because those checks were “awash”, meaning they were accounted for.
Prosecutors scoffed at Coleman’s response reminding her that she testified differently to a grand jury on the matter of voided checks saying that she didn’t remember why she wrote “voided” on the cancelled checks.
As prosecutors, on Friday, seemed to make the case that Beavers’ gambling habit was the reason for his misuse of campaign funds as casino records indicated Beavers lost $500,000 at slot machines from 2006 through 2008, prosecutors are not arguing that it was illegal for Beavers to spend campaign money on gambling — only that he was required to declare the money as income.
Beavers, whose annual salary is $85,000 as a Cook County commissioner, lost $200,000 in 2006, $196,000 in 2007 and more than $80,000 in 2008 — net loss figures that factor in his winnings from the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., said former casino employee Janet Guerrero, who testified on Friday.
Things didn’t get any better for Beavers as the trial continued well into the afternoon as prosecutors called Richard Lewandowski, owner of Breaker Press, Inc., Chicago, testified that a couple of invoices presented by the prosecution as payment from Beaver’s campaign literature were not his.
Beavers pleaded not guilty to four federal tax-related counts. His attorneys have argued that Beavers regarded much of the money from his campaign coffers as loans and that he eventually paid much of it back.
If convicted, Beavers faces a maximum three-year prison sentence on each count.
By Deborah Bayliss
Civil Rights organizations and people around the country took notice last week as the U.S. Supreme Court heard legal arguments that threaten to undo Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which requires many states, cities, and counties, primarily in the South, to obtain preclearance from the Department of Justice before changing election laws in ways that could affect the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
The Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African Americans from exercising the franchise.
The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The Act has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006.
In a legal proceeding that threatens to erase fifty years of voting protections, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is intervening in the Shelby County Ala. v. Holder case, on behalf of African-American residents of Shelby County whose voting rights are directly impacted by the county’s challenge.
“The Shelby County case is a major marker in our nation’s march towards the kind of just society Dr. King had envisioned,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the NAACP Texas State Conference. “At this point we will either, turn back the clock and reignite the fires of the past, or we will continue to move in a direction that recognizes every citizen’s basic and fundamental rights, such as the right to vote.”
Right now Department of Justice preclearance is required from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia and also certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan and New Hampshire.
Among those states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas are siding with Shelby County, while California, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina argue that the law should be upheld, according to news reports.
Many, including Civil Rights Activist Rev. Al, Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), Rev. Charles Williams II and Sr., members of Detroit chapter of NAN, The NAACP, S.E.I.U., Dr. Martin Luther King III, and many other groups were in Washington, D.C., Feb 27, to support and challenge the hearing of the oral arguments in the case.
“The NAACP has always fought for voting rights and will never stop advocating for unfettered access to the ballot box for all Americans,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “We are driven by the legacy of those who sacrificed time, resources, and in many cases, their lives for this fundamental right. We must ensure that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is preserved.”
Shelby County v. Holder, came into play following the Justice Department’s veto in 2008, of Shelby County’s move to redraw one of its electoral maps effectively reducing the number of black voters in that district from 70.9 percent to 29.5 percent.
That case caught the attention of conservative advocate Edward Blum—who persuaded Shelby County to file a suit on the basis that Section 5 has outlived its validity and unfairly targets certain states.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP said, “This case comes on the heels of an election year in which our nation witnessed the greatest assault on voting rights since the Jim Crow era.” “Section 5 is the heart of the VRA. Shelby County v. Holder threatens to erode the essential protections that Section 5 provides for all Americans. “
The Supreme Court will decide whether Section 5 is still a necessary deterrent against voter discrimination, and according to published reports, the liberal and conservative justices engaged in a sometimes tense back-and-forth, over whether there is an ongoing need in 2013 for the part of the Voting Rights Act that requires states with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to obtain approval before making changes in the way elections are held.
A decision is expected to be made by the Supreme Court by late June.
Justice Antonin Scalia called the law a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Rev. Sharpton, perhaps the most vocal proponent of the Voting Rights Act, tweeted, a response to Justice Scalia’s “racial entitlement” comment saying, Scalia’s remark generated a lot of outrage, but it’s not the first time the Supreme Court Justice said something outrageous. Sharpton also asked the public a question on his Politics Nation website: If you could replace just one member of the Supreme Court, who would it be?
Larissa M. Tyler, Managing Editor, Chicago Citizen Newspaper contributed to this report.
By Deborah Bayliss
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — Many are familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, but they were not the first African-Americans to serve in the American armed forces. African-Americans have continuously served in the U.S. military since colonial times.
After the fighting began in 1775, the British offered to free any African-American slave who served with them, leading Gen. George Washington and the Continental Congress to offer the same proposal. As a result, several thousand African-Americans served as Continental Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.
During the War of 1812, most states rejected attempts of African-Americans to join state militias. However, 500 African-Americans fought at New Orleans in late December 1814, and several hundred with the Navy.
At the start of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, wary of offending the slave-holding border states, prohibited African-Americans from enlisting. As the need for Soldiers grew, the U.S. government began enlisting African-Americans. By April 1865, more than 200,000 had served in the Union Army and Navy, and 25 of them had received the Medal of Honor.
During the Frontier Wars, African-Americans served in four segregated regiments and were known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” They fought Indians and outlaws, garrisoned forts and protected settlers. By 1900, 13 had received the Medal of Honor.
On Feb. 15, 1898, 22 African-American Sailors died when the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The Buffalo Soldiers fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and five earned the Medal of Honor. African-American Soldiers also accompanied the Punitive Expedition (1915-1917) into Mexico.
During World War I, more than 367,000 African-Americans were among the 4.5 milliom Americans sent to Europe, of which 42,000 saw combat. The 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Hellfighters from Harlem,” served the longest time of any American regiment and earned the French Croix de Guerre as a unit, as did 171 members. One Soldier eventually received the Medal of Honor.
By 1939, the Army had only 3,600 Soldiers in the segregated Buffalo Soldier regiments out of 360,000 men, and the Navy had several thousand, mostly as mess stewards. The Marine Corps and the Air Corps had none.
Between December 1941 and September 1945, about 1.3 million African-Americans served in all military services. More than 95 percent of African-Americans Soldiers served in combat support units and always in segregated units. The best known were the truck companies, collectively known as the “Red Ball Express,” that transported supplies, food and ammunition 24/7 to the frontline troops after the July 1944 breakout from the Normandy beachhead.
The reactivated all-African-American 92nd Infantry Division fought in northern Italy from August 1944 until April 1945. The 93rd ID, activated in May 1942, saw limited combat in the Southwest Pacific. In late December 1944, after the German breakthrough in the Ardennes, some 4,500 African-Americans served as combat Soldiers. One of them, Staff Sgt. Eddie Carter, Jr., posthumously received the Medal of Honor in 1997.
Between 1942 and late 1945, the Navy had a total of 150,000 African-Americans. They served at shore duty installations or harbor or coastal vessels and as mess stewards aboard the larger ships. By September 1945, the Navy commissioned only one African-American officer, and African-Americans fully manned only one naval vessel. In the same period, the Marine Corps enlisted 17,000 African-Americans, assigned mostly to supply and depot units.
The most famous African-American unit of World War II was the 332nd Fighter Group manned by the Tuskegee Airmen.
The 99th Fighter Squadron, formed on March 22, 1941, entered combat in North Africa. By May 1945, the 332nd Fighter Group, consisting of the 99th, 100th, 301st and the 302nd fighter squadrons, had established an outstanding combat record.
The Army Air Forces had enlisted 145,000 African-Americans. In many places, they not only had to deal with the prejudices of white commanders and white enlisted personnel, but also the prejudice of the local communities. The 4th Aviation Battalion served at Maxwell Field, Ala., living in facilities that are now part of the Federal Prison Camp.
The African-American men and women who had served in the U.S. military services during the war performed well in leadership and technical positions, demonstrating the illogic and inefficiency of the segregation policies in place at the time.
After 1945, these policies, racial prejudices of some white base commanders, and few promotion and career field opportunities for African-Americans in the military produced several base disorders. Investigators squarely placed the underlying cause of the disorders on the military’s segregation policy. As a result, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in July 1948, integrating the U.S. military services.
Nicolette Robinson, a King College Preparatory High School student took careful steps across the snow- covered ground as she made her way from the parking lot area to the Greater Harvest Baptist Church Saturday morning to line up amongst the hundreds who gathered to say their final goodbyes to Hadiya Pendleton, who lost her life to Chicago’s gun violence as she took shelter from the rain on Jan. 29 near her school.
“The violence needs to stop,” said Robinson in a low, somber voice; revealing the sadness she felt for her friend and classmate who now is unable to continue her life.
In response to an online petition and public outcry for President Barack Obama to attend Pendleton’s funeral, First Lady Michelle Obama, Senior White House Aide Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended in his place to pay their respect and as a symbolic gesture against gun violence.
As expected at the high profile funeral with the First Lady in attendance, security was tight with bomb sniffing dogs and searches of everyone who entered the church at 5141 S. State St.
The First Lady, according to those inside, told Pendleton’s friends and classmates to “stay strong” and look forward to their bright futures.
Stacey Mixon Newton who attended Western Illinois University with Hadiya’s parents attended the funeral Saturday morning to pay her respects to Pendleton and her family.
“My daughter went to school with Hadiya,” said Mixon Newton. “I just think we as parents really need to step our game up and be more involved with our police and schools and whatever we can do to make the situation better.”
People started lining up at the church well before the 9 a.m. which is when visitation for the teen began. The funeral followed at 11 a.m.
Chatham resident Jared Washington was Hadiya’s middle school principal at the University of Chicago Charter School.
“I think this crime “we’re experiencing” is emblematic of a catastrophic breakdown of our community,” Washington said of the neighborhood gun violence that captured national news attention.
Washington said students are being told by him and their parents to go straight home after school.
Mary Murphy, a resident of Hyde Park stood amongst the many reporters and photographers gathered in a space across the street from the church holding a glass vase filled with white roses as tears streamed down her face on the cold Saturday morning of Pendleton’s funeral.
“I’m going to place the flowers at her memorial and I’m grateful to Michelle Obama for showing up to shed light on what we can do to control gun violence.”
Auburn Gresham resident Bobbie Mccomb also stood across the street behind metal barricades erected to keep the press at bay. Her 14-year-old daughter Cierra Mccomb, she said, was shot Dec.1 as she stood outside on 78th and Carpenter Streets with friends. Fortunately, Cierra survived the shooting.
“Someone came up and just started shooting,” said the mother, Mccomb. “She was shot in the back of the knee and the bullet is a couple inches from an artery so it’s still in there.”
Mccomb said she has other teens in her home and worries about them every day.
“No one believes it but our kids our becoming extinct,” said Mccomb. “This is getting ridiculous and something needs to be done.”
Mccomb said she just moved from Chatham to the Auburn Gresham community in Sept. and is now considering leaving the city altogether for the sake of her children.
Chicago Police Tuesday evening confirmed that two individuals have been charged with Pendleton’s murder.
Kenneth Williams, 20, of the 3900 block of S. Lake Park Ave. and Michael Ward, 18, of the 300 block of W. 59th St. were charged with first degree murder, two counts each attempted first degree murder and two counts each aggravated battery/discharge of a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting.
By Deborah Bayliss
The death of Haydia Pendleton, a 15-year old Bronzville area high school student last week captured national news headlines with reactions from a U.S. government official as gun violence claimed more lives.
Speaking at a recent U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), mentioned the young student’s death as he argued for more to be done to stop gun crimes.
“She was an honor student and a majorette,” Durbin said. “Performing at President Barack Obama’s inaugural events last week “was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life,” he said.
Pendleton, of 4412 S. Indiana Ave. was hanging out with a group of about 10 to 12 other teens in a park near her school last Tuesday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. after taking her final exams at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep, when a man allegedly jumped a nearby fence and opened fire, causing the teens to scatter, according to Chicago police.
“The girl was struck in the back,” Chicago Police Officer, Jose Estrada said, providing information on how the tragic event played out. “The young male who was shot (once in the leg) was listed in serious condition (at Comer Children’s Hospital in Hyde Park).
“No one is in custody,” Estrada said.
Students at King recently complained they were not allowed to remain in the school before and after school hours and staged a sit-in last month to call attention to that and other school policies implemented by new principal Shontae Higginbottom.
Marille Sainvilus, a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools said, “Students are allowed in the school building to wait for parents and to take part in after school programs and activities. They just can’t loiter,” she said. “There has been some recent dialogue between the principal and students.”
Sainvilus also said grief counselors were provided for both staff and students regarding Pendleton’s death.
Pendleton’s tragic death sparked nationwide discussions on how best to handle Chicago’s gun violence and also led to a petition being filed on the White House website with signatures from various parts of the U.S. asking for President Barack Obama’s attendance at Pendleton’s funeral. The petition as of a Feb. 4 had 836 of the 100,000 signatures needed for an official response.
Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley, recently appeared on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s television program to raise awareness about her daughter’s death.
“She was amazing…she had a major heart. She was quirky, she loved to laugh, she loved her brother, she was an avid reader, she very much loved volleyball and being a majorette, she loved life,” Cowley said. “And she was a true teenager, just a kid, and she didn’t want to be anything more than she was – and that was just 15.”
A public viewing for Pendleton will be held from 2 to 9 p.m., Feb. 8 at Calahan Funeral Home, at 7030 S. Halsted St. Visitation for the teen is set for Saturday at 9 a.m. followed by her funeral at 11 a.m. at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 5141 S. State St.
According to news report, there is a $40,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Mayor Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy addressed questions about gun violence at a press conference last Thursday following Pendleton’s death, announcing the police department is moving 200 officers from administrative duties to the street and will hire 200 replacements for those jobs.
“We should have clerks doing clerical work. We don’t train people to be police officers and have them doing clerical work,” McCarthy said.
The 200 police officers from administrative positions will join existing Area Saturation Teams and focus on preventing gun and gang crimes in a redeployment that comes after multiple audits determined additional administrative responsibilities should be handled by civilians and not sworn personnel.
“Since our first week in office, we have been focused on moving police officers onto the beat and working directly in our communities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “(This) move is another effort to target gangs and guns in particular areas with every officer we have available.”
More officers will be transferred in Feb., and all 200 will be moved from department headquarters and district offices into patrol positions by March 31.
As for the President’s national efforts that critics say does not speak to Chicago’s gun violence, he plans to strengthen background check systems for gun sales; pass a stronger ban on assault weapons; limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; make schools safer with new resource officers and counselors; institute better emergency response plans and ensure quality coverage for mental health treatment, particularly for young people.
By Deborah Bayliss