Just days after an honor student who performed at Obama’s inauguration was killed, many Chicago teens have asked the president to visit the city and recognize its high rate of gun violence.
Aisha Truss-Miller, a community organizer, teamed up with Black Youth Project to petition Obama to come back to his hometown and address the violence. Truss-Miller lost her 17-year-old cousin last year to a shooting.
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot on January 29 at a park just days after she performed at Obama’s inauguration. Police think the shooter mistook Pendleton and her volleyball teammates as a gang. They have not arrested anyone yet.
Truss-Miller’s case also remains unsolved. She lost her cousin Leonard Truss before his 18th birthday in the summer of 2012.
Last year, more than 500 murders were committed in Chicago. Of those murders, 108 were under age 19. In January 42 people were murdered in the city.
“These last couple of years are the worst I have ever seen,” Truss-Miller said.
Truss-Miller is passionate about her community, and wants to help the Black Youth Project with their petition.
The petition reads: “We know that President Obama cannot solve the issue of gun violence alone. However, he can call the nation to consciousness about the need for a response to this specific crisis that is affecting youth in cities like mine.”
Another petition, posted on the White House website, urges Obama to attend Pendleton’s funeral. Though Obama has not said anything about attending, he called her family to express his condolences and Michelle Obama is set to attend the funeral. Gov. Pat Quinn is also set to speak at the service, scheduled for this Saturday.
Pendleton’s death has inspired many young people to take action on gun violence. Even those who did not know her felt compelled to call for a change.
“Things gotta change and it’s up to us to change it,” Chelsea James, 17, said. “We could all get shot right now. I’m tired of it.”
Chicago has strict gun laws, but criminals are still finding ways to have weapons.
Truss-Miller’s cousin was killed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a gun that has received much attention over the past few months. Obama is pushing to ban military-style assault weapons, but has received backlash from the NRA and other gun supporters.
“Why the hell would everyday citizens need AR-15, that’s military weaponry,” Truss-Miller said. “That’s something that’s used in war.”
The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, has attempted to control the gun violence in the city, but has not had much success. She said it is time for the president to step in.
“We have seen President Obama rightly and appropriately go to Newtown. We have watched him rightly go to Aurora to comfort those families,” Cohen said. “Coming to Chicago, coming to the south and west side of Chicago, signals to the country that the loss of the families in Chicago is just as important to us as a nation as the loss of young people in suburban areas.”