Kass: Chicago's forgotten innocents need our attention too

The Obama White House got involved then too. Attorney General Eric Holder came to Chicago and made a speech, as did Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said, "This is a line in the sand, and we have to get dramatically better."

It's always a line in the sand for politicians, until the sand moves.

And who can forget Ben Wilson, the top high school basketball player in the country, shot to death in November 1984? Then, as now, the politicians made vows and talked of gun control but avoided the pathology of barbarism.

The other day, a few feet from where Wilson was shot, near the new Simeon Career Academy, I met two 14-year-old freshmen. They knew of Ben Wilson. Both boys said that gun control wasn't the only answer and that gangbangers wouldn't listen to Obama.

"If it were up to me," said one, "he can keep the guns. He needs to get more police on the street."

On the block of the park where Hadiya Pendleton was killed, a street of expensive and well-kept Kenwood homes, I ran into neighbor Geri Redd, a mom and kindergarten teacher. You could see from her face that she felt for Hadiya, but also for the other children who've fallen beneath our notice.

"There are what, 500 killed?" she said. "And not to say that Hadiya was just another one, but people relate more to her, I think. I think in a lot of ways because how she was and how she was raised is sort of how we envision our children, so you immediately connect to her. But there's all these other children."

Like Nazia Banks, forgotten by most, except his father.

"Right there I lost my son," said his father, eyes rolling, pointing at those concrete steps. "Right there."

Nazia was just another murdered child in Chicago.

And nobody said he was everyone's son.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

CHICAGO

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