Early this fall, as details emerged about the death of Daniel Prude and tensions grew between Black Lives Matter protestors and city police, some wise elders stepped in and asked other community leaders and elders to stand between the police and the protestors. During a graced, but tense night, both police and young protestors stood back in respect and something shifted. The night was peaceful. The Elders and Allies continue to engage in supportive activities in alignment with Free the People ROC’s affirmation that Black Lives Matter.
This year, RAICA partnered with the Elders and Allies and "Blocks in Bloom" for our Second Annual Interfaith Tree Planting, held on November 21 at the Jefferson Avenue location where Daniel Prude was forced to lie in the street. The Korean lilac tree is now part of a garden at the Abundant Life Faith Center. Joe and Valerie Prude, Mr. Prude's brother and sister-in-law, Pastor Arthur Dilbert and congregants assisted in planting 41 bulbs, commemorating the 41 years of Mr Prude’s life.
Because trees are both efficient sequesters of carbon and symbols of care for future generations, we felt it was essential that any event we held must focus on environmental justice. Police violence is perhaps the most visible violence experienced by people of color, but it only reflects the pervasive economic, environmental and social violence people of color have experienced throughout the European presence on this continent. It must end now. We hope our donation of this small tree is a symbol of the greater community’s commitment to a world where all children can grow up without fear and be free from the effects of racial injustice. Our city should be a place with green spaces enjoyed by all, fresh clean air, and soil free of toxic waste.
Because of the pandemic, we kept the gathering small, but look forward to a time in the spring when we all may safely gather to dedicate this garden and affirm to the community that Black lives matter and Daniel Prude’s life mattered.
RAICA thanks Laurie Broccolo for her generous assistance and expert touch. She even took home some wounds from voluntarily pruning a lovely, but overgrown rose bush. Much thanks also to Rev. Arthur Dilbert, and to volunteer master gardeners from the "Blocks in Bloom" program, Deborah Jackson, Janet Williams and Dorrean Nelson who helped prepare the bed for planting.