The young man with bare, heavily inked arms paced along a stretch of South Shore Drive, an open Bible in one hand, its pages appearing to wilt in Friday’s muggy heat.
“This is not a way to live! This is not a way to live!” Lamon Reccord announced to anyone who would listen.
A blanket, a case of bottled water, a can of bug repellent lay nearby on the sidewalk — supplies he said he’d need for the next five days of his protest.
A few minutes later, neighborhood activists Pete Keller, his wife, Shanee Edwards-Keller, and their 5-month-old baby, Kai Keller, arrived. Kai is the same age as Cecilia Thomas — the infant who died after being shot in the head a week ago during a drive-by shooting in the 7700 block of South Shore Drive.
As the chubby Kai dozed in his father’s arms, the child’s mother spoke to reporters, tears streaming down her face.
“I’m imagining had it been mine, had it been my baby that’s 5 months old, and I’m thinking about all that it takes for a woman to carry a baby, to bring a baby into the world, hug it, love it,” Edwards-Keller said. “This is not my baby that died, but I feel for the mom because she is hurting and there is nothing anybody can do to take that pain away. That baby is never coming back.”
Edwards-Keller addressed Cecilia’s killer.
“Just think about the damage that you could cause to so many lives,” Edwards-Keller said. “Not only did you take [Cecilia’s] life, but you lost yours too because you did what you did. Karma is a monster.”
Activist Paul McKinley came with his 6-month-old daughter, Minnie.
“We’re asking that [Mayor Lori Lightfoot] have the same disdain like you had about [the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of] Roe vs. Wade — have that same disdain about life,” McKinley said.
Cecilia’s father has told police he heard gunshots while driving, then saw another car approach at a high rate of speed, according to Chicago police Supt. David Brown. Someone in that car began shooting at his car and the father tried to drive away as the firing continued, Brown said.
The father pulled over near 71st Street and Crandon Avenue after Cecilia began crying, a witness told the Chicago Sun-Times. Cecilia was still in her car seat when paramedics arrived, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. They moved the car seat to the ambulance with Cecilia inside it, he said.
There had been no arrests in the case as of Friday, police said.
“We don’t want this story to go silent. It makes no sense. This type of story should have the same impact as when Emmitt Till was killed many many decades ago — due to the fact that a 5-month-old child was actually killed here in the mean streets of Chicago,” said Tio Hardiman, the community activist who heads up Violence Interrupters.
Then Reccord stepped up to the microphones.
“This is not the way to live,” said Reccord, who describes himself as a certified life coach. “To the young people, especially the young men, your challenges don’t determine you as a man. But what you overcome as your challenges is what determines you as a man. Wisdom always wins over emotion.”