CBS-TV Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times are all reporting that two young high school students in Chicago were murdered by gun violence on the same day of President Obama’s visit here.
First, Frances Colon, 18, was a senior at Roberto Clemente High School on Chicago’s West Side. She is the third Clemente student killed in recent months. Frances was killed just hours after President Obama spoke Friday at Hyde Park Academy in response to the murder of honor student Hadiya Pendleton in January.
Frances’ father, Jose, appeared at Clemente High School today and tied balloons around a flagpole in front of the school in remembrance of his daughter. He recalled Friday President Obama’s recent visit, indicating that he and Frances actually heard and saw Obama’s Marine One helicopter fly overhead in route to Hyde Park Academy last Friday.
A few hours later, Frances Colon was dead.
While tying the balloons to the flagpole, he said that it was at this time every morning when he brought her to school. Today – alone – he broke down in uncontrollable tears.
The details, as reported by CBS:
On Friday night, Frances Colon was shot in the back as she left a store in the Chicago neigborhood known as Humboldt Park with friends.
Police say that she, of course, was not the “intended target.” Her father said that she exited the store with a bag of candy and snacks. An unknown gunman approached and began firing indiscriminately into the group of kids.
“This is outrageous, too many guns out here man,” Jose Colon said. “These young kids have no aim, shooting all crazy. They hit innocent bystanders, people who want to do something for themselves, for their lives. My daughter was going to become a lawyer.”
“She’s a really awesome friend, and I am going to miss her,” said Holly Franklin, a senior at Clemente.
Senior Victoria Santiago said: “She was really bubbly, always goofing off with people. She was always really good at drawing. I admired her for all her drawings. It’s hard really, hard to go through something like this.”
Jose Colon appealed directly to the murderer of his child: “You have to stop. You’re hitting young innocent kids. You’re wrong, man, turn yourself in!”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the by now obligatory (and far too routine) call to the Colon family on Sunday morning and offered his and the city’s condolences.
Frances Colon had been accepted by Northeastern University and was planning to enroll this fall, the CBS report concluded.
Incredibly, in a second murder on Friday, another 18-year-old Chicago woman was shot and killed after her sister had sat on the stage behind President Barack Obama at Hyde Park Career Academy as he spoke of Hadiya’s murder and pushed for gun control legislation.
Janay Mcfarlane was shot once in the head around 11:30 p.m. Friday in North Chicago, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd told the Chicago Sun-Times. Mcfarlane was the mother of a 3-month-old boy, and was in the Chicago suburb visiting friends and family.
North Chicago police are questioning two people in connection with Mcfarlane's death, but at this writing, no charges have been filed.
"I really feel like somebody cut a part of my heart out," Angela Blakely, Mcfarlane's mother, said in various media reports.
Blakely said that Mcfarlane was not the “intended target.”
Mcfarlane's 14-year-old sister stood only feet from President Obama at Hyde Park Career Academy, where he spoke about gun violence and paid tribute to Hadiya Pendleton.
Blakely told the Tribune that Janay Mcfarlane had been deeply affected by Pendleton's death.
"She always said after Hadiya Pendleton got killed, 'Momma that's so sad,'" Blakely said. "She was always touched by any kid that got killed. She was always touched by mothers who couldn't be there for their babies because they were gone."
Mcfarlane was scheduled to graduate from an alternative school this spring, Blakely said, and hoped to begin a career in the culinary arts.
"I'm just really, truly just trying to process it — knowing that I'm not taking my baby home anymore," Blakely said.
It seems that President Obama’s presence in Chicago on Friday did not have the desired affect, after all. As noted, these young women were murdered on the very same day that Obama showed up in remembrance of a now third murder (Hadiya’s) one mile from his Hyde Park neighborhood home.
Yes, but he made a nice speech, a moving speech. His wife’s presence at Hadiya’s funeral was also appreciated by all involved.
But let’s also remember that President Obama was shamed into coming to Chicago. We were not on his itinerary until the rumblings and grumblings about his apparent lack of concern for black “inner city” youth reached the boiling point.
And, as usual, all that he did here is make a speech. He did not come bearing any “Executive Actions” that would surely put an immediate end to this carnage. I have listed elsewhere on Allvoices.com what I think he could do right now, and without having to go through a recalcitrant congress, to stop the violence.
Instead, “it is what it is.” What we get – and will continue to get from this president – is “symbolism over substance” rather than concrete, reality-based programs and efforts to put these gangbangers out of business, permanently.