Community Initiative to Replace Makeshift Shrines with Memorial Trees in the Southside


Syracuse, NY – June 7, 2018 – A new community project spearheaded by Rashawn Sullivan seeks to replace makeshift shrines created by friends and acquaintances of individuals who have lost their lives to gun violence in the south side of Syracuse.

Rashawn Sullivan, who is the founder of the I Apologize Foundation (a non-profit that facilitates the re-entry of formally incarcerated individuals into society), approached Onondaga Earth Corps a Syracuse-based environmental non-profit focused on youth education and renewing the urban ecosystem, with the idea of planting memorial trees at sites where these makeshift shrines have sprung up. According to Rashawn, these shrines – usually liquor bottles and memorial candles are not only a visual blight, but also disrespectful to the memory of the deceased. When Rashawn encountered the work of Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC), a partnership was born. 

Rashawn has helped OEC liaise with the community members who have lost a loved one and have agreed to plant memorial trees in remembrance of those lost to gun violence, at the sites where these shrines exist, usually at the same location where the violence happened. On Saturday, June 9, a group of individuals gathered by Rashawn Sullivan and OEC will be hosting an inaugural community planting event to kick-off the project that all are welcome to join. The trees have been generously donated by Chuck Hafner’s Garden Center and Atlantic States Legal Foundation. The event will start at 10 AM by the corner of W. Newell and Cannon St. and then move on to two other locations (see flyer for more details).

It is the hope of everyone concerned who came together to make this project happen that it will lead to tranquility and peace through the creation of increased green spaces in our city as well as a living memorial for families who seek closure and emotional relief.