The tragic shooting of an innocent and promising Chicago teenager must reinforce attention on the best ways to curb urban gang violence. One key approach: police-clergy coalitions.
When she was in a Chicago elementary school, Hadiya Pendleton took part in a video against gang violence. “So many children are out there in gangs,” she said in the 54-second clip. “And it is your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great future.”
Last Tuesday in a city park, Hadiya was randomly killed in what police say was a mistaken, gang-related shooting. Just days before, Hadiya had performed with her high school band at President Obama’s inauguration.
Coming only weeks after the shooting of 20 children in Newtown, Conn., this tragic killing of another innocent child has thrown a fresh national spotlight on the fact that an average of 16 kids under the age of 24 are murdered every day in the United States, mostly by guns and many in gang violence. And most are urban blacks or Hispanics.
The problem is particularly acute in Chicago, where gangs are larger and more organized than in most other cities. And despite various innovative anti-gang and anti-gun programs, city officials appear even more frustrated after Hadiya’s death. This January was the city’s most violent January since 2002.