Isn't’ she cute? Meet 15-year-old Chicagoan Hadiyah Pendleton.
This King College Preparatory High School student had the thrill of a lifetime when, as head majorette, she led the school’s marching band past the reviewing stand where the President of the United States and his family cheered them on.
King high is one of Chicago’s eight selective enrollment secondary schools, which means the 900 students who attend had to apply for admittance and were accepted based on their academic achievement and test scores. It is located in the Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago’s south side – less than a mile from the Hyde Park residence of Michelle and Barack Obama.
Yesterday, King dismissed Pendleton and her 16-year-old friend because of exams, so they decided to spend the unusual free time at a nearby park. That’s where Hadiyah and the boy she was with were caught in the crossfire of two gangs shooting it out in broad daylight, right there in the open.
The boy was seriously injured. Hadiyah is dead. Dead.
I lived in Chicago for for many years. I lived in Hyde Park where my son attended pre-school and his first three years of elementary school. The dominant influence in that area is the renowned University of Chicago. Many of Hadiyah’s classmates were probably children of members of the faculty.
This is a tragedy that should smack the gun lobby upside their stubborn heads. Even they should be able to understand the unbearable irony of this child’s loss of life. Even though Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has pulled all investments in gun manufacturers from the city’s pension fund, nothing seems to keep the illegal handguns out of the hands of society’s miscreants.
I have always believed that the only solution is to outlaw the manufacture of handguns marketed to the general public. I can’t tell you how many of my like-minded friends – i.e., likeminded in most things – have told me “that will never happen. It just won’t.”
But I know what’s true. Even if we wised up and stopped gun manufacturers from producing Saturday Night Specials and similar weapons, they would be made elsewhere and smuggled into the country the same way drugs are today.
Tears keep burning the backs of my eyes. Children are dying in parks at 2 p.m. Children are dying in their classrooms, seated at their desks. Our jobs as adults are to protect children from these dangers. We are failing. Miserably.