Melvina Mctier wasn't supposed to spend her night on Thursday like this.
She wasn't supposed to stand in front of North Charleston City Hall addressing a group of reporters. She wasn't supposed to feel this pain.
Mctier's son, 38-year-old Dewitt Cohen, was shot to death in the early morning hours on Wednesday — the last of five people to be killed in five days. The string of shootings from Saturday to Wednesday marks one of the deadliest stretches in North Charleston's history. On Thursday night, Mctier, family members of other victims, and local activists gathered to speak about their pain and their dedication to coming together.
"I'll never be the same again," she said. "I want everybody to know that black lives do matter and I want all y'all to stop hurting one (another)."
Mctier said she wants justice for her son.
The rally at North Charleston City Hall — organized by James Johnson, state president for the National Action Network — featured other victims' family members and local activists who all spoke about the proliferation of firearms in the black community. When combined with poverty and lack of resources allocated to those communities, the result is often violence, Johnson and others said.
Carnecia Gillard spoke about her cousin, Brenden Wright. The 22-year-old was killed along with 21-year-old Jascere Stokes when someone shot at the pickup truck they were in on Sunday night.
Wright was a good, young man, Gillard said as she implored the community to take charge and come together to prevent further killings.
"We gotta take care of each other," she said. "We can't blame other people. We have to take ownership ... My cousin, nobody should have to bury their son, their child, period. Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. Y'all, we got to do better. We got to love each other. We got to learn how to talk through situations and just squash what's going on."
During a fiery speech, the Johnson placed part of the blame squarely on North Charleston's city officials, with a particular emphasis on Mayor Keith Summey.
The city's leaders have failed the black community by giving more resources to more affluent sections of the city, he said.
Johnson also urged the community to work with the North Charleston Police Department and cautioned the community against retaliation.
"(There are) too much guns on our streets," he said. "These guns are killing our young people because they can get (them) for 30 and 40 dollars. They're being dumped in our community. This is genocide. If those guns were dumped in white communities, you would have the FBI on every damn corner. I am sick and tired of this."