Evanston reels after violent Fourth of July

Yiming Fu, Managing Editor

Content Warning: This story contains mentions of gun violence and death.

Evanston kicked off its 100th Fourth of July celebration at 9 a.m. Monday morning with sack races and the egg toss. Shortly after, Jamie Black, the celebration manager of Evanston Fourth of July Association, got a call from the Evanston Police Department. 

Black received the call soon after a gunman opened fire on Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade Monday morning, killing seven people and wounding more than 30. Highland Park is a northern suburb of Chicago located a little more than 10 miles away from Evanston.

As a precaution, Evanston shut down all Fourth of July celebrations and closed city beaches following the shooting. Police took the suspect into custody about eight hours after the initial incident.

“There really aren’t words for this moment to express our condolences to those who lost loved ones or were otherwise harmed yesterday morning, to communicate our anger at the gruesome reality of gun violence in America in 2022, or to articulate how frightening it is for a town that treasures its communal public gatherings like 4th of July parades to grapple with the question of when we can ever be truly safe,” Mayor Daniel Biss said in a Tuesday statement. 

While Highland Park saw the greatest number of casualties in a single incident, the Gun Violence Archive recorded 11 mass shootings this Fourth of July, with about 10 people killed and 77 others wounded across nine states. 

In the statement, Biss also called for local and federal legislation to curb gun access. 

“Almost no other country has gun laws like ours, and no other country has a problem akin to ours,” he wrote. “It’s not a coincidence, and anyone who continues pretending to believe otherwise has blood on their hands.”

Audrey Thompson, the city’s parks and recreation director, said Evanston’s Human Resources Division has been training individuals on how to debrief the tragedies and said employers should recognize how people may be affected by Monday’s events and support them. 

What’s scary, Thompson said, is knowing there’s no immediate way to prevent a similar mass shooting 100% of the time, even with thorough communication with police and fire departments. 

“Mental illness is real,” Thompson said. “We need to be very cognizant of our surroundings, you know, situational awareness, but also reaching out to young people when we know that they may be in distress and offer services to them to get them help sooner than later.” 

Community members have been sharing resource guides for healing spaces, donation centers and GoFundMe’s. 

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Twitter: @yimingfuu

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