4:47pm February 7, 2013

560 Dead in 13 Months: Why Are These 5 in Obama’s Cabinet Silent on Chicago?


“You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge,” — Dr. Phil

Over 520 dead in 2012 and 41 murdered in January. For whatever reasons of politics, PR, or personal preference, President Obama has said more recently than football injuries than murder in Chicago – even though the crisis of violence is occurring in his political hometown. After the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who marched in the inaugural parade, many expected the President to focus more on Chicago’s problem. So far, he’s mentioned Chicago’s violence epidemic only twice: At the National Urban League convention in 2012 and during the Sandy Hook crisis. This week, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. called for the President to “come home” and put focus on the issue of violence in Chicago.

But if the President can’t “comment on everything,” why can’t members of his cabinet?  Last year, murders in Chicago (520) outnumbered U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan (304). There are at least five members of the President’s cabinet who could speak out on Chicago and push changes in policy related to violence.

Three weeks ago Louis Farrakhan called on the President to visit parents of Chicago’s murder victims as he did Connecticut after the Sandy Hook massacre. The Chicago murder rate tripled what the rate was in New York in January.

Why aren’t these five Obama Administration cabinet officials more active in terms of  murder and violence in Chicago, Ill.?

1. Vice President Joe Biden – Vice President Biden is currently the Obama Administration point person on gun policy. Yesterday he spoke with House Democrats at their retreat in Leesburg, Va., and mentioned gun policy. Biden clicked of several recent gun U.S massacres: Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tuscon… No mention of Chicago.  The Vice President traveled to Richmond, Va., on January 25 to talk gun violence and spoke with those connected to the Virginia Tech massacre.  The Chicago murder numbers are 21 times worse than Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech — why isn’t the Vice President in Chicago and why isn’t murder by gun in Chicago a part of his conversation on gun policy?

2. Attorney General, Eric Holder – Holder showed up in Chicago in 2009 along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan after the brutal murder of Derrion Albert.  Where is the Attorney General now? At the least you’d think Holder would mention his own Justice Department’s blue ribbon report on violence released in 2012. 

3. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathy Sebelius – Sebelius has a $80 billion dollar budget and is charged to care about “the health of all Americans.”  If she can release a statement on the flu why not one on 520 murders in an American city? How is it that the Secretary of Health and Human Services isn’t calling violence a major health crisis?

4. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin – It may appear far fetched that the Surgeon General should comment on violence.  But if the Surgeon General is the, “leading spokesperson on matters of public health“ shouldn’t she be focused on the intransigent issue of violence that kills more people than some of the problems she does mention?

5. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — Though the primary focus of the Department of Homeland Security is terrorism, more people died in Chicago died from a more insidious form of domestic terror in the streets of the city.  If 41 people died from a terrorist act in a single American city in January it’s likely Napolitano would declare a state of national emergency.


LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on Black members of Congress.  She can be heard every Tuesday on the radio on The Earl Ingram Show at 4 p.m. EST. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment with USAToday.com and ABC News and holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Contact: LBurke007@gmail.com.  Twitter: @Crewof42

About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is an opinion journalist, comms expert and political analyst focused on justice reform policy. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of Black members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke was a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin, Hardball and Up on MSNBC, WVON in Chicago, WURD in Philadelphia and WOL and WHUR in Washington, D.C. She is currently the Managing Editor of Politic365 and a contributing writer for TheRoot and NBC Black where she writes opinion and analysis. Additionally, Ms. Burke has been a contract photographer for Associated Press since 2004. She has authored three books of photography including two on President Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency and one with Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee. Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Here e-mail is: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @LVBurke. Instagram: LVB325.



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