In a somber moment, President Barack Obama finally discusses the war-zone level violence in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, where over 400 murders had occurred by the end of September.
Speaking candidly with Sway Calloway in a 30-minute MTV Special, “Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview with the President,” the POTUS said that the violence strikes close to home for him.
“I live on the South side of Chicago,” said Obama, who lives in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. “Some of these murders are happening just a few blocks from where I live. I have friends whose family members have been killed.”
Though he has been heavily criticized for tap-dancing around gun violence, some would say in an ineffective attempt at pandering to the 2nd amendment, NRA-loving crowd who, in all likelihood, won’t vote for him anyway, he says that critics have to look beyond guns and embrace and “all-of-the-above approach”:
“What I know is that gun violence is part of the issue,” he said. “But part of the issue also is kids who feel so little hope and think their prospects for the future are so small that their attitude is, ‘I’m going to end up in jail or dead.’ And they will take all kinds of risks.”
“If they’ve got mental health issues, are they getting the kind of services and counseling that they need early on?” he said.
“Are we making those investments in those young people so that by the time they’re 11, 12, 13, 15 … they can make responsible choices because they feel they’ve got something at stake?”
President Obama acknowledges that though his administration has addressed some of these issues, community organizations and law enforcement must remain diligent so that “kids don’t feel as if they’ve got no prospects in life and end up killing each other.”
See the president’s full response on Chicago violence below:
As previously reported by NewsOne, the warzone of “Chiraq,” as some locals are calling the violent city, is comparable to the carnage left on battlefields in the Middle East. By the end of September, the city had surpassed 400 murders, and according to RedeyeChicago.com, “homicides are up 25 percent year-to-date compared to the same period in 2011.”
This is the second time in recent weeks that President Obama has given us a glimpse into his thoughts on this issue. Though his response in the MTV special was by far the most in-depth, during the second presidential debate, he said the following in response to a question about a federal ban on assault weapons:
“What I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence, generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban re-introduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence, because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap handguns,” Obama said.
President Obama recently stopped through his hometown to participate in early voting — the first time that a sitting president has done so.
Hopefully, he made time to speak with those police officers, community and faith-based leaders that he said, along with his administration, could potentially turn the tide of violence in the city.