A West Side alderman criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday for failing to attend Saturday’s funeral for 11-year-old Shamiya Adams, the latest innocent victim of Chicago’s never-ending gang violence.
“He should have been there. The message needs to be sent that this is one city. There are no unimportant parts of Chicago,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose West Side ward includes the West Garfield Park neighborhood where Shamiya was gunned down when a bullet fired by an alleged gang member entered the open window of a home where the girl was having a sleepover with friends.
“You couldn’t find a better child. She was doing well in school. She was helping to raise money for library books. If we don’t support children doing the right things in life, what hope do we show them?”
Ervin said Emanuel’s absence was particularly disappointing, considering the fact that the mayor joined first lady Michelle Obama in attending last year’s funeral for 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.
A promising sophomore at King College Prep, Hadiya Pendleton was shot in the back on Jan. 29, 2013, while hanging out with friends at a park a few blocks from the high school and less than a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood mansion.
Hadiya’s murder shined another unflattering international spotlight on Chicago because she was an honor student and a majorette who had just performed with her high school band at festivities tied to Obama’s second inauguration.
Now, Shamiya is the new poster child for the innocent victims of the gang war being waged on the streets of Chicago.
Her funeral drew 1,000 people, including Gov. Pat Quinn, to Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park on Saturday. But, the crowd was not large enough to satisfy Ervin.
“I’m disappointed the place wasn’t filled to not only celebrate the life of the young girl, but celebrate the fact that she was doing the right things in life. … When children are doing what they’re supposed to do, we should support these children and their families,” the alderman said.
Kelley Quinn, the mayor’s communications director, was taken aback by Ervin’s criticism.
“The mayor spoke to Shamiya’s mother, Shaneetha Goodloe, during a visit last week and explained that he had longstanding plans with his son on Saturday,” Quinn wrote in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“He also didn’t want to attend the funeral with the appearance of grandstanding. That said, Mayor Emanuel has visited the family twice, attended the fundraiser where he contributed $1,000, and has spoken with her more than five times over the phone – including [Monday] morning – when she thanked him and said she appreciated all of his help.”
Shamiya and a group of her friends had been sitting in a circle in a room in the 3900 block of West Gladys Avenue, about to enjoy marshmallow s’mores, when gunshots rang out, authorities and family members said. One bullet came in through the window and struck Shamiya in the head.
Tevin Lee, an 18 year-old gang member, has been charged with Shamiya’s murder. He’s accused of firing into a crowd of people in the West Garfield Park neighborhood in retaliation for an earlier fistfight between two 14-year-old boys.
During the funeral, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. told mourners, “One year it’s Hadiya. The next year, it’s Shamiya.”
But, Jackson said Monday he has no problem with the fact that Emanuel was a no-show at Shamiya’s funeral and sent a staff member in his place.
“I thought the mayor did commendable service to the family. He visited them twice where they lived. He also co- funded a fundraiser. The family did not have the money for a funeral of dignity. They just didn’t have the insurance. But it was a very first-class event,” Jackson said Monday.
Jackson said Emanuel, who is in trouble with black voters who helped put him in office, “could have come by and given a symbolic hand wave, but he did not do that. He rendered a real service to the family. And they were appreciative.”