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Just two days after Hadiya Pendleton was laid to rest, two reputed gang members have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the attack that killed the 15-year-old and left two other teens wounded in Harsh Park late last month, about a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood home.
Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, mistook the group of teens that included Hadiya and the other shooting victims for rivals and sought to retaliate for a shooting that took place last summer. Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya’s father, said this is the first time he has had a “legitimate” smile on his face since losing his daughter to the senseless violence. ”I’m ecstatic that they found the two guys,” he told the Chicago Tribune by phone from a Washington, D.C. restaurant, where he was with his wife, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, and other relatives. “(I’m) thanking God that these two guys are off the streets, so that this doesn’t happen to another innocent person.”
Shortly after First Lady Michelle Obama returned to Washington after attending Hadiya’s funeral on Saturday, President Obama announced that he’ll be in Chicago to discuss the rampant gun violence that has plagued the city since last year. Respected community leader and activist, Father Michael Pfleger posted a status on Facebook about the President’s forthcoming appearance. “Wow, what a great day…Wonderful Worship Service, Dr. Cornel West was challenging and prophetic as always. The Father (Nathaniel Pendelton and God Father Mr. Stewart of Hadiya joined us for service. While we were breaking bread afterwards we get a call that they are arresting the men involved with her Murder and then get a call that the President WILL COME TO CHICAGO FRIDAY TO ADDRESS THE VIOLENCE…God you are so AWESOME….I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THE HAND OF THE MIDNIGHT HOUR WE ARE IN IS GETTING READY TO MOVE TO MORNING!!!!!!”
Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.