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Harris-Perry guest: Obama should speak in Chicago on gun violence to show “our children are worthy also”

By Samantha Kimmey
Sunday, February 3, 2013 18:03 EDT
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On her Sunday show, Melissa Harris-Perry discussed the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago with Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project and political science professor at the University of Chicago.

Forty-two people died in Chicago from gun violence during the first four weeks of 2012 alone — three times as many as in New York City during the same time period, despite the fact that the Windy City has about a third of the population, reported CBS Chicago.

And recently, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who performed with her high school band in Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s inauguration, was killed during a shooting in a park near her school. That’s despite the fact that gun shops are actually banned in the city and private citizens cannot carry guns publically.

Harris-Perry said, “I feel like the hardest thing to comprehend about this, for those of us who think that, that gun control and common-sense gun control has to happen, is that Chicago has such tough gun laws. What in the world can be done?”

Cohen said it was a “difficult time for the city of Chicago” because of the feeling that there was an “endless killing” of youth in the city.

“We do have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But the question is that those gun laws aren’t comprehensive,” she argued.

She noted that people can buy guns just a few miles outside the city or bring them from outside the state. City police confiscated over 7,000 guns in 2012, she said, compared to New York City police who confiscated 3,200 guns.

The Black Youth Project has launched a petition asking President Obama to make a speech in Chicago on gun violence.

Asked what what such a speech could accomplish, Cohen said Obama can use his “bully pulpit” to “rally the country to understand this issue,” as well as help to encourage groups to coordinate on fighting gun violence.

As well, she said that “symbolically,” people have seen Obama in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., as they should have — but Chicago needs to feel that “our children are worthy also.”

She said that in addition to the short-term need to reduce violence as quickly as possible, “This is about also young people that don’t have jobs and who don’t see a future. This is about young people who don’t, in fact, have quality education. We have almost 50 percent of young African-American men not graduating from high school, right. There are immediate issues that have to be dealt with and then there are broader, longer structural issues. And we have to hold the mayor accountable, but we also have to hold the president accountable.”

Watch the video, via MSNBC, below.

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