Message from the Mayor: Reflecting over the past two weeks

I’m shaken by two terrible events that happened in Evanston in the last few weeks.

On the evening of July 14, a young man who was walking with his daughter near McCormick Boulevard was shot and killed. Then, this past Monday evening, a teenage girl was shot while attending a backyard party. She is currently in the hospital.

This violence is truly horrific. As the immediate victims, their loved ones, and our broader community go through the lengthy process of mourning and restoration, we must stand with them and provide any support we can.

There have been some developments: an arrest has been made relative to the July 14 incident, thanks to the diligent work of our police department and other investigative agencies. The quick action of our emergency responders may have saved a life on Monday evening. I want to extend my deepest thanks to those who made this happen—and of course we will update the community as more information becomes available.

But—and I hope you’ll forgive me for being so blunt—something has me very worried.

I’ve been thinking back to July 4, when the horrific shooting in Highland Park seemed to affect the emotions and mental state of our whole community. We all (rightly) stopped what we were doing, in shock, in grief, and in resolve to change things.

When the two more recent tragedies took place, plenty of people felt that same way, and of course many in our community were directly affected and in terrible pain. At the same time, I have the impression that for many others, these events were just a horrible piece of news to be consumed, saddened by, and then moved on from.

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that anyone doesn’t care. But what I do think has happened is that in a country awash in guns, in a society with a completely startling and unacceptable level of violence, our collective capacities for shock and outrage are diminished.

We cannot react to heinous acts of violence with mere resignation. We cannot let our nation’s gun violence epidemic leave us numb (and by the way, once we allow ourselves to head down that path, it won’t be long before we also lose our capacity to be shocked by events like what happened in Highland Park on July 4).

I know that we are oversaturated with overwhelming and bad news, and that elected officials rarely ask the community for more outrage. But we need to be shocked and outraged. We need to come together as a community and demand something different. We need to look out for one another and build a society where we’re able to keep each other safe. We need to demand reasonable gun laws, not only when it comes to assault rifles, but also the handguns that cause the majority of gun deaths.

The City of Evanston will do everything we can, through our first responders, our outreach team, our health department, and more. We’ll be working together to develop more strategies as well. And I’m asking you to stay engaged, stay outraged, and demand more. The current status quo only becomes inevitable if we decide it has to be.

Wishing you peace and resolve,

Daniel Biss
Mayor, City of Evanston

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