Obama coming to Chicago to 'talk about the gun violence'

Photo: President Obama speaks last week in Virginia

President Barack Obama speaks during the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Va., Feb. 7, 2013.
(JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters / February 10, 2013)

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago this week, following his wife here as the city finds itself in the national spotlight after the slaying of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

The White House said the visit will be among three trips Obama will make to press issues raised in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

"The president will travel to Chicago for an event amplifying some of the policy proposals included in the State of the Union that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and the Americans striving to get there," a White House official said.

"He’ll of course also talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country," the official added.

On Saturday, Michelle Obama joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn at the funeral of Hadiya, who was gunned down about a mile from Obama's Kenwood home about a week after performing with the King College Prep band in Washington during inauguration festivities. She made no public statements.

Community activists in Chicago have been urging President Obama to speak out on Chicago violence. A petition on the White House website had called on the Obamas to attend Hadiya's funeral.
Hadiya’s death occurred during the deadliest January for Chicago homicides in a decade, and came on the heels of a homicide total last year that was the highest since 2008.
Chicago’s homicides in recent years are far below their annual total of more than 900 in the early 1990s. But the recent surge has caused alarm and brought national attention to the city. While Chicago was moving back over 500 homicides last year, the total fell below 500 in New York City – with about triple the population of Chicago.
Local officials have stepped up efforts against gun violence.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has moved to strengthen laws for purchasing guns in the city. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also has made an effort to tighten loopholes in the law.

During his annual State of the State address last week, Gov. Pat Quinn mentioned Hadiya as an example of why the state needs tougher gun laws.

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