City Cast

Highland Park Shooting Survivor: 'Advocacy is Coping'

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on June 27   |   Updated on July 28
A headshot of Highland Park gun violence prevention advocate Abby Kisicki

Highland Park native and gun violence prevention advocate Abby Kisicki. (Courtesy of Abby Kisicki)

It’s been almost a year since a shooter killed seven people and injured dozens more at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.

Abby Kisicki, a native of the north suburb, fled the parade. In the fall, she joined Newtown Action Alliance, a national grassroots advocacy organization founded after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you get involved in gun violence prevention?

“It really is my way of coping. Because seven people randomly were killed that day, and it could have been my parents or me. I am doing this for [the victims] because they can't do it for themselves.”

Highland Park will have a commemoration this year instead of a parade. Will you attend?

“No. I've been thinking about this for a long time. I like what the city is doing. They clearly put a lot of thought into it and weighed a lot of different opinions.

I'll be out of town for the Fourth. There are these moments sometimes where being a survivor and advocate are different roles. As a survivor of the shooting, I really wouldn't wanna be there. As an advocate, I do.”

How can others get involved?

“Follow organizations on social media. Get what they're posting into your regular social media diet. Because seeing events and rallies will chip away at this natural hesitation people have to get involved.

Don't be so afraid you're doing something wrong that you don't do anything at all.”

Highland Park parade shooting memorial is decorated with victims photos and flowers.

A memorial site near the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park July 7. (Jim Vondruska / Getty)

+ The Illinois' assault weapon ban continues to face legal challenges.

Correction: Abby Kisicki is a gun violence prevention advocate with Newtown Action Alliance, a national grassroots advocacy organization. An earlier version of this article misstated her title and the organization's structure.

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