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Hadiya Pendleton Park Expansion Headed Forward Despite Shooting

By Ted Cox | July 7, 2015 3:03pm
 Hadiya Pendleton Park in Bronzeville
Hadiya Pendleton Park in Bronzeville
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DNAinfo/Angela Myers

CITY HALL — Plans to expand a Bronzeville park renamed for Hadiya Pendleton are moving forward, despite a fatal shooting there last week.

"There's always been a need for more open space in the community," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) Tuesday at City Hall. "I'm looking forward to the new expansion of the newly named Hadiya Pendleton Park."

Formerly known as Buckthorn Park, at 4345 S. Calumet Ave., the park was renamed by the Chicago Park District earlier this year for Pendleton, the King College Prep sophomore shot and killed two years ago, shortly after performing at the second inaugural for President Barack Obama.

Expansion of the park was approved last month by the Zoning Committee, with the full City Council set to sign off on it later this month. Opponents of the expansion charged the enlarged park might actually attract more violence.

Yet, after a shooting there Friday left 17-year-old Vonzell Banks dead and a 19-year-old wounded, Dowell didn't back down, saying, "I still feel committed to turn this area into a bigger park, because I believe in the end we have to take back our own community."

Dozens of people at an anti-violence rally and prayer vigil at the park on Saturday applauded as Dowell added that the park expansion would "send a message to bad people that we don't want them in our spaces."

Dowell confirmed Tuesday that the shooting took place Friday on the site of the old Buckthorn Park, when the two victims were playing basketball and were joined by a third man police believe attracted the gunfire. Pendleton too was an innocent bystander when shot at a park.

Dowell said Tuesday she did not believe the incident would create a snag for expansion of the park, expected to be approved by the full City Council at its next meeting July 29.

First lady Michelle Obama spoke last month at what would have been Pendleton's graduation ceremony at King College Prep.

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