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Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, victims of other mass shooting massacres come together for Highland Park townhall

CBS Chicago logo CBS Chicago 8/4/2022 Tim McNicholas

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- Grief, advice, and action – that is what came up Wednesday during a virtual townhall meeting for survivors of the Highland Park July 4th parade massacre.

As CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reported Wednesday night, the Highland Park Strong "Survivorship Town Hall" was an outlet for the people of Highland Park - but it became more than that.

As it unfolded, it became an example of just how prevalent mass shootings have become across the country.

Hartman is a Highland Park mom who shielded her daughter from gunfire on July 4th.

"We knew instantly something horrific was unfolding," said Lindsey Hartman. "A piece of our daughter's innocence was stolen that day."

People connected with other mass shootings were also present – including the parents of a woman who died in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012.

"We don't recover from what happened, but you do move forward," said Sandy Phillips.

Also present was a neighbor of the shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.

Video: Gabby Giffords, others touched by horrors of mass shootings gather for Highland Park townhall (CBS Chicago)


"Every child in that school heard what was happening," said Po Murray.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords – who suffered a brain injury when she was shot in the head outside a Safeway grocery store near Tucson, Arizona in January 2011 – addressed the assembly.

"Our lives can change so quickly," Giffords said. "Mine did when I was shot."

Those were just a few of the stories told during the hour-long virtual townhall. In the Zoom chat section, the people of Highland Park typed out the heartbreaking questions with which they've grappled.

One participant asked, "Ten years later, how are the children (of Sandy Hook), now teenagers, doing?"

"They still need therapy, unfortunately," replied Murray.

The group pushed through the sorrow and shared resources and advice for people coping with trauma. The speakers also praised and encouraged the North Shore moms who quickly traveled to Washington, D.C. to call for gun reform.

"We would not have been able to pass the assault weapons ban last week without your voices," said Murray.

"We are living in challenging times," added Giffords, "but we are up for the challenge."

The City of Highland Park says there may be similar town halls down the road.  They are also planning eventually to create a permanent memorial for the victims of the July 4th shooting. 


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