WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama comes home to Chicago on Friday, adding the trip to his post-State of the Union swing to push his second term policy plans to bolster the economy–and to address gun violence in Chicago and other cities.
The White House announced the trip on Sunday, the day after First Lady Michelle attended a funeral for a South Side teen gunned down near their Kenwood home.
His visit will throw a spotlight on the city’s inability to curb shootings–with 506 murdered in 2012, a 16 percent increase from 2011.
Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union address is expected to dwell on the economy with a portion devoted to Obama’s push for legislation to curb gun violence, proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre.
A White House official said on Sunday Obama will travel to Chicago for “an event amplifying some of the policy proposals included in the State of the Union that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and the Americans striving to get there.
“He’ll, of course, also talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country.”
On Saturday, Mrs. Obama, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan–all raised on the South Side–attended the funeral for Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old shot to death on Jan. 29, just days after traveling to Washington for Obama’s inauguration.
They sat in the sanctuary of the Greater Harvest Baptist Church with other family, friends and dignitaries of the youth mourning her life cut short when she was murdered last month at Harsh Park, 4458-70 S. Oakenwald, about a mile from the Obama house on South Greenwood.
Jarrett’s family home is a block north of the Obama residence.
The Chicago trip appears to have been added to the Obama schedule for this week–or kept under wraps, because it was not part of his week ahead calendar publically released last Friday.
Obama is buttressing his State of the Union messages next week with domestic travel to discuss his priorities. On Wednesday, Obama travels to Asheville, North Carolina; on Thursday he heads to the Atlanta, Georgia area. On Friday, the day of his Chicago trip. Obama meets with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy in the Oval Office in the morning.
Obama’s last visit to Chicago was in November, where he celebrated his re-election to a second term at McCormick Place.
Obama returns as he is addressing gun violence for the first time in his presidency–and amidst calls that he personally takes action to stop the shootings in the city that launched his political career.
Chicago has been grappling with youth violence for years. On Oct. 7, 2009, Obama dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder and Duncan to Chicago to try to find ways to end chronic brutality in the city after Fenger High School student Derrion Albert was fatally beaten.