Michelle Obama Guests at SOTU Include Watts Police Cpt. Phillip C. Tingirides
Michelle Obama Guests at SOTU Include Watts Police Cpt. Phillip C. Tingirides (Photo Credit: White House/Pete Souza)

The White House released the lists of invitees who will sit in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box during the State of the Union address. The guests include:

Watts Police Captain Phillip C. Tingirides:

“Once a hotbed of crime since its eponymous race riots of 1965 and a surge of gang violence in the 1990s, the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles has seen a 50 percent reduction in violent crime in recent years.”

“That’s thanks in large part to the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) — a program that Captain Phillip C. Tingirides, a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, is spearheading. The CSP facilitates cooperation between the police department and Watts housing development residents scarred from decades of distrust — including encouraging dialogue at community meetings with police who personally engage with residents.”

Malik Bryant, Student (Chicago)

“But this past Christmas, 13-year-old Malik Bryant from Chicago wrote Santa with a very different request.”

“All I ask for is for safety,” he wrote. “I just wanna be safe.”

Malik’s neighborhood of Englewood has one of the highest rates of violent crime in Chicago. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Malik’s mother explained how he isn’t always able to leave his house and go hang out with his cousins, “because he has to cross gang lines and walk past all these gang members on some of those blocks. And all he ever hears on the news about our neighborhood is shootings, gangs and violence.”

State Senator Catherine Pugh (Marylyand)

“Senator Catherine Pugh isn’t just Maryland’s Senate Majority Leader: She’s a small business owner who knows first-hand how important it is that employers take care of their employees.”
“Senator Pugh has passed over 100 bills since being elected in 1999, and she’s been a tireless advocate on behalf of working families.”
Prophet Walker (California)
Co-founder of Watts United Weekend
“Prophet Walker was serving a six-year sentence for robbery when he made a choice to turn his life around. Walker — now 27 — began a program in his prison that provided fellow inmates with the opportunity to complete a two-year college degree.”
“After he was released, Prophet graduated with a degree from Loyola Marymount’s Engineering school, working as a construction engineer and still finding time to serve the southern California community.”
“Prophet is the co-founder of Watts United Weekend — a program that provides weekend camp retreats for hundreds of people weekly, strengthening trust between law enforcement, community members, parents, and kids from local housing projects.”
See FLOTUS’ full guest list here.