Students and parents speak out against gun violence at council meeting


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Students asked Councilmembers to invest in resources like free recreational activities and restorative justice work within the city.

Shannon Tyler, City Editor

Content warning: this story contains mentions of gun violence and death 

At Monday’s City Council meeting, students and parents urged the city and nation to take action against gun violence after a tragic shooting left Jacquis Irby dead and two 15-year-olds injured on April 12.

Four Evanston Township High School students went to the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center to voice their concerns about gun violence in the city during public comment. Some students called for stricter gun laws nationwide. They also asked Councilmembers to invest in resources like free recreational activities and restorative justice work within the city. 

Olivia Ohlson, a sophomore at ETHS, said gun violence affects every aspect of American life. 

“We need stricter gun laws here and nationally,” Ohlson said.  “We need more post-high school support and community building in Evanston because behind every life loss there is a grieving family and community.” 

Resident Abigail Stone said she went to speak out against gun violence as a mother. She urged City Council to listen to Evanston’s youth because they know best how to reach other youth and discourage violence.

“I’m concerned for how this is affecting (kids) trauma-wise and their thought patterns and their ambitions if some youth feel like they can’t even see beyond the age of 18 because of the violence,” Stone said. 

After public comment, the city’s sustainability team updated the council on their work this year. 

Sustainability and resilience manager Cara Pratt presented an update on the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan and their final 2023 action agenda. 

She said the city’s sustainability team applied for several grants to support environmental protection efforts in Evanston, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Government-to-Government fund, which will help support the city’s affordable housing retrofits, and another grant that will help support increased recycling education. 

A third grant would support the city’s fleet electrification, specifically for police department cars. Pratt also highlighted the city’s efforts to evaluate the municipal vehicle fleet to determine the right sizing for electrification. She said when they first started these efforts in July 2022, the police department had one electric vehicle and has accumulated 12 since. 

Pratt previewed four key proposals set to come before council within the next year, including legislation to tax or ban single-use shopping bags that City Council sent back to the drawing board in January. The bill will come before the Human Services Committee next Monday. A tree preservation ordinance will also go to the Planning and Development committee during the month of May.

The sustainability team has also begun preliminary community outreach for legislation regarding building efficiency and phasing out natural gas connections. Pratt said in 2024 the council will consider adopting the Illinois Stretch Code, which allows municipalities to achieve more energy efficiency in buildings. 

She also discussed further requests for these proposals, which include an environmental equity investigation and a proposal to install solar panels at the Robert Crown Community Center. 

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Twitter: @shannonmtyler

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