At a rally against gun violence Saturday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Chicago needs a stronger witness protection program to get killers off the street.
“People are afraid to tell,” Jackson said at his Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters. “Because of fear, the community has become a sanctuary for killers.”
More than 100 people attended the rally, which came just days after Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot and killed. After the rally, Jackson led a march from King College Prep high school, where Pendleton was a student, to Harsh Park where a gunman opened fire on the group the teen was with.
Before the march, Shatira Wilks, a relative of Pendleton’s, made a plea for witnesses to come forward.
“Every day that is our biggest question,” Wilks said. “Have they found him? Do they have any leads? Do they know who it is?”
She added, “It has to stop. You have to turn this person in. Please do it. It’s the right thing to do.”
Jackson said Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Garry McCarthy are doing what they can, but he said Chicago needs federal intervention. He also asked President Barack Obama to return to Chicago to help address the problem. The shooting that claimed Pendleton took place in the same Kenwood community where the president lives.
“Please come home,” Jackson said. “It would serve to illuminate for Americans the nature of the urban crisis.”
Patrice Hall Williams, whose nephew, Marshall Fields-Hall, was shot to death last month in the Austin community, said after the march that there is only so much Obama can do.
“The president is one man. We are a community,” she said. “We need to stand up as a people and take back our community and say it’s unacceptable.”