Michelle Obama is planning to attend the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago girl who was killed close to Obama’s home on the south side of the city.
Pendleton performed at President Obama’s inauguration a few days before she was killed by an anonymous gunman at a Chicago park.
Kristina Schake, communications director for Michelle Obama, said:
“As a mother and Chicagoan, the first lady was heartbroken to learn of the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton due to senseless gun violence … Too many times, we’ve seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them. The first lady is traveling to her funeral on Saturday to offer her condolences and support to Hadiya’s family and loved ones.”
The Huffington Post reports that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will also attend the funeral. President Obama is not expected to attend and Michelle is not expected to make any public remarks.
Chicago saw more than 500 murders during 2012 and the violence has continued in 2013. According to the Chicago Tribune, this was the deadliest January in more than a decade in Chicago.
A petition has been started on Change.org urging President Obama to visit his hometown and address the violence.
“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.”