In the wake of a 15-year-old's shooting death in Chicago, a petition was started to urge President Barack Obama to attend the girl's funeral.
Hadiya Pendleton, an honor-roll student who recently performed in events at Obama's second inauguration, was shot in the back Tuesday afternoon while hanging out with friends in a park about a mile from the president's Chicago home. Police said the shooting was over gang turf and that Hadiya wasn't the intended target.
News of her death sparked national outrage as legislators discuss gun reform and comparisons are drawn between local gun violence and the country's recent massacres.
"As Newtown swirls down the memory hole," the petition begins. ... "President Obama should stand up and take advantage of a tragic opportunity to keep the anti-gun violence movement engaged."
The petition was filed in the "open petitions" section of the White House website. It requires 100,000 signatures to receive an official response.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday told reporters in the Briefing Room that the president and first lady are praying for Hadiya's family.
"It's a terrible tragedy any time a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them," Carney said. "We see it far too often."
The petition asks for Obama's response and his presence back home.
"From the National Mall in the District of Columbia to Harsh Park in the 4400 block of South Oakenwald Avenue. From the inauguration to the mortuary. In eight days..."
Obama has invoked Chicago twice in two speeches to the country regarding gun violence and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. As he announced a $500 million package of executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at reducing gun violence, he nodded to the city's murder rate.
"The most fundamental set of rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech, high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago, are too frequent a basis to tolerate," he said.