“They got what they deserved.”
So said Hadiya Pendleton’s father, Nathaniel, after a jury on Thursday found the second of two young men guilty in the murder of his daughter Hadiya.
And so they did. They got what they deserved, and they’ll go to prison for a long time, and you won’t hear a word of second-guessing about that here.
We write all the time about the social ills that create young killers — the bad schools, the broken homes, the wild streets. But when one young man shoots into a crowd of perfectly innocent people and a second drives the getaway car, our well of compassion runs dry.
We hate prisons, and the United States locks up too many people. But this is what prisons are for.
Did you see Hadiya’s parents, Nathanial and Cleo Cowley Pendleton, in court this week? Did you see their restraint and dignity?
Did you see how Mrs. Pendleton on Wednesday, after trying so hard to hold up, broke down after leaving the courtroom?
She doubled over and sobbed.
Except for the sentencing stage, justice has been done, and you might say this story is wrapping up. So it goes in the news business, and in a city where the public’s attention to one horrific murder inevitably is pushed aside by the next.
On Wednesday, the getaway driver in Hadiya’s murder, Kenneth Williams, was found guilty by a jury. On Thursday the young man who fired the gun, Micheail Ward, was found guilty by a second jury.
But this story will never end, nor should it. A whole city despaired when Hadiya, who was just 15, was killed on Jan. 29, 2013, and we should never stop despairing.
Our loss of Hadiya, a radiant young woman who was so full of promise, tugged at our hearts. She came to represent all the young people in our city who stand too little chance, even when they come from the best of families, and die too young.
Every one of those kids is special to somebody, or damn well should be.
Mrs. Pendleton bent over and cried in court. And she will cry again, for years and forever. We know this from working in the news business, where we talk to crying mothers and fathers all the time. You know it, too, maybe just from living in Chicago.
Or maybe you have had reason to cry.
Two young killers will go off to prison, but this story will not end. No murder, especially of a child, ever does. Every violent death leaves a permanent hole in somebody else’s spirit.
Ask the moms and dads.
What’s the latest gun death tally in Chicago? As of Thursday evening, it was 362 for the year.
We should feel ashamed.
Bodies fill our morgues.
And broken hearts and spirits cover our city like a shroud.
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