Highland Park leaders say they’ll take their time on permanent memorial for shooting victims

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering visits a temporary memorial to the seven people killed on July 4 in November 2022. "We are still individually and collectively experiencing unbelievable grief and ongoing trauma," Rotering told the Daily Herald.

The process of designing a permanent memorial to honor the victims of the Highland Park Independence Day mass shooting will be inclusive, community-driven and likely take years, city leaders said during the first formal discussion of the structure this week.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said coming up with the permanent monument is going to be a deliberative process.

“We are absolutely trying to be as well-informed and to be as reflective of the needs of our community as possible,” Rotering said during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

In the hours and days after the shooting that killed seven people and injured dozens more, a makeshift memorial to the shooting victims was formed near the Veterans Memorial at St. Johns and Central avenues.

Although it was a comfort to some, the makeshift memorial led others for whom the trauma was still fresh to avoid the area. In September, city officials relocated the memorial to a rose garden next to City Hall on St. Johns Avenue.

In November, Rotering and other officials established and dedicated a new temporary memorial in the rose garden with a plaque for each of the seven people killed. That temporary memorial will remain until a permanent version is completed, officials said Monday.

Rotering said it is paramount that the public is engaged throughout the permanent memorial’s design process. She said special emphasis will be placed on the families of victims and survivors directly affected.

Early on in the discussion, which lasted about 30 minutes Monday night, Rotering became overwhelmed with emotion and had to pause while thanking shooting survivors and victims’ families for attending.

“As we continue to work through the process of grief and remembrance, we take another step together tonight as we begin to discuss a permanent memorial,” said Rotering, continuing through tears. “While absolutely nothing can replace a life, a permanent memorial can provide a place of remembrance, reflection and hopefully respite.”

City Manager Gita Newkirk said ongoing communication with the public, government and community resource partners as well as victims’ families and survivors will be a critical component.

Newkirk said the main way the city will communicate with the public is through its online newsletter and website, The city will send out community surveys, host open houses and conduct focus groups, she said.