HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. —  Outside Highland Park City Hall, baby bottles, shoes and a sea of lawn chairs wait for parade-goers to claim them three weeks after the terror of July 4.

Inside was a milestone, beginning with a moment of silence as City Council met for the first time since the tragedy.

“We will continue to mourn for Katherine Goldstein, Irina McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Jacqueline Sundheim, Stephen Straus, Nicolas Toledo and Eduardo Uvaldo,” said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.

Rotering honored the victims and thanked the first responders and city employees who’ve served through their grief. Council members also approved a $500,000 grant program to help businesses forced to close for the week after the shooting recover some of their costs.

But for so many, the emotion remains raw.

“They have lifted us up with special care and attention and we are united in the face of trauma,” Rotering said.

The mayor promises to continue the fight for stricter gun laws. State Representative Bob Morgan (D-15), in attendance at the meeting, is now chairing a working group on gun reform in Springfield.

“My perspective is everything is on the table,” Morgan said. “We will be working as quickly as we can to pass meaningful laws to make sure no other community goes through what we just went through.”

Portraits of the victims drew mourners to Port Clinton Square. On Monday, the man behind the artwork, retired art teacher Herb Kruse, presented the drawings to City Council.

“They can put them on display or donate them to families,” he said.

But Kruse says he is moving out of his downtown Highland Park apartment. It’s a move that, while already planned, was expedited by the alleged shooter’s use of his building’s staircase to carry out the attack.  

“Nervous, I can’t sleep well at all,” Kruse said.

The former educator is hopeful the community will maintain their support and his art will be a piece of it.

“Just keep showing love,” Kruse said. “Just keep loving each other.”