The uncle of a one-month old infant fighting for her life after being shot in the head last Thursday in Chicago's massive wave of gun violence is not just speaking out, he's putting his boots to the ground.
He aims to do the job the state of Illinois, the mayor of Chicago, and President Joe Biden is failing at, he told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" on Thursday, one week after the shooting.
"It feels like no one cares," Charles McKenzie, a Chicago community activist with nonprofit Englewood First Responders, said. "And [there is] only one of me. I know other people say they care. People can talk about it, but you have to be boots to the ground.
"I learned that as being, when I was 15 years old, when I was part of the problem. I changed my life. I used to be with an anti-violence group called CeaseFire.
"They gave us opportunities to work, to stay off the street, from doing bad things, and I continue through my journey fighting for what I believe in to help other young individuals like myself to make a change and a difference."
The shooting, which came just days before President Joe Biden stopped to visit with Mayor Lori Lightfoot at the Chicago O'Hare tarmac, has left his one-month-old niece Terriana Smith hospitalized and fighting for her life.
That preceded the worst gun violence weekend of the year in Chicago, which left 17 killed and 99 others wounded in shootings in the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"The mayor can't do it, the government can’t do it, so who else?" McKenzie said Thursday.
"They talked to the president. What can the president do to stop this violence?"
Biden has vowed to deliver billions to Illinois ($8.13 billion), Cook County ($1 billion), and the City of Chicago ($1.9 billion), according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, diverting unspent coronavirus relief funds.
"We need a lot of things to change," McKenzie said. "It seems like to me everyone pointing a finger at everyone else. The mayor's trying to see what she can do. Other people are trying.
"Who else do we need to talk to so we can [decrease] this. I'm not going to stay stop it, because it's impossible to stop violence. It's been happening since I was a little kid.
"So who else do we need to talk to, the upper power, to see if we can [decrease] some of this."
McKenzie, while he could not stop the shooting of his niece, is taking a proactive approach, leading the nonprofit community group to help patrol the streets of Chicago, he said.
"I got multiple people from around the community that's tired of gun violence," he continued. "We came together, every day we hittin' the streets sun up to sun down.
"We're trying our best to try to put an end to this gun violence, but it's like every time we climb that ladder we get knocked back down.
"It's a hard feeling. But we fight."
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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