First Lady Wades into Debate Over Gun Violence in Chicago

Chicagoans hopeful after Michelle Obama visit

   CHICAGO (AP) -- One Chicago parents says she hopes that first lady Michelle Obama's visit to a Chicago high school will possibly reduce violence in the South Side's Englewood neighborhood.

   Carolyn Collins stood outside Harper High School on Wednesday afternoon as Obama talked with students inside. The 46-year-old woman said her daughter attends the school. Collins says she hopes the first lady's visit to one of the city's more violent neighborhoods will remind the rest of the country what local children go through.

   Nearby 11-year-old Dejuan Cox wasn't quite so hopeful. He said it was nice that the first lady visited, but he thinks the violence will continue. And 11-year-old Kiera Barden waited outside the school too. She said she came to see the first lady because she wrote a report on Obama.


CHICAGO (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama is making a deeply personal entrance into the gun debate on the eve of a pivotal vote in Congress.

Mrs. Obama told a conference on youth violence in Chicago on Wednesday that the gun proposals her husband made in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting deserve a vote in Congress. But she says reducing daily gun deaths in places like her hometown also will require a serious and sustained effort by community leaders.

She highlighted the case of a 15-year-old, Hadiya Pendleton, shot to death on the city's South Side shortly after she performed at her husband's inaugural events. Mrs. Obama says she could have been Hadiya, but instead became first lady while the honor student ended up dead from a gunshot wound in the back.

CHICAGO (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama has visited a high school in Chicago after speaking about youth violence at a downtown hotel.

Obama said "Hey Harper High" as she walked in at Harper High School on Chicago's South Side. She told the students that she's proud of them and that she wanted to hear what they had to say about their school and community.

The first lady stressed education too, telling the students the best thing they could do in life "is really be serious about education." She told them that if they stay focused they "can make it happen."

Obama also told the students that she grew up in a nearby neighborhood and "there isn't much distance between me and you."

First lady discusses Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago

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CHICAGO (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama talked about slain teen Hadiya Pendleton when she spoke about youth violence in Chicago.

Obama said Wednesday afternoon that she and Hadiya had very similar lives. Pendleton was shot dead in January, about a week after she performed at events in Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration. She was killed in a Chicago park not far from the Obamas' home on the city's South Side.

The first lady attended Hadiya's funeral in Chicago and said she spoke to the 15-year-old girl's friends. Obama said it's hard to know what to say to a group of teenagers who are about to bury their best friends.

Obama told those gathered at a downtown Chicago hotel that there is a "moral obligation" to help stop youth violence.

Isiah Thomas says youth violence prevention needed

CHICAGO (AP) -- Hall of fame basketball player Isiah Thomas was in Chicago to hear first lady Michelle Obama address youth violence.

Thomas grew up in Chicago public housing and has been involved in violence prevention programs, like youth basketball leagues. He said after the first lady spoke Wednesday that the programs are critical to reducing violence. Thomas says the teens don't see each other as rival gang members, instead they see other as people. Thomas says it's hard to shoot someone whom you've played basketball with.

Obama was in Chicago to support an initiative from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to raise private money to pay for programs to help at-risk youth.

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