Emotional ceremony honors crime victims at tree
BATON ROUGE - A tree adorned with ribbons stands as a symbol of awareness and recognition for survivors and victims of crime.
The tree is located on North Blvd. and Ninth Street downtown Baton Rouge, just before the interstate.
The Survivor Tree has ribbons of all different colors with messages and names of loved ones on each one. A reminder of what survivors go through when a loved one dies.
Tyna Laphand was among the people there, honoring a family member. Her son was murdered.
"One night, Memorial Day night, he was shot," she said as she pinned a ribbon on the tree with his name, Anthony.
"I never forget him," she said. "He's always in my heart, always on my mind. Today gives me a chance to talk to others that have gone through the same thing I have gone through."
The Survivor Tree is the first in Baton Rouge. The lighting of the tree was organized by Baton Rouge Area Victims Empowered, an organization that hopes to make this an annual event.
Ribbons were on hand for those who attended. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie, District Attorney Hillar Moore, Mayor-President Kip Holden and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux were among those who participated.
The mother of Shelby Holmes, Dorothy Chissell, pinned a ribbon to the tree for her son. Holmes was shot dead in October 2013 walking home from work. His killer has not been found. If he were here today, Chissell says her son would probably be hard at work, getting ready for events at the River Center.
"I find myself, you know, laughing about things we talked about," said Chissell. "Dropping him off to the River Center, going to work. It's hard, very hard."
The Survivor Tree will remain lit for the rest of the month and people will be able to pin ribbons around the tree with the names of victims and messages they would like to share.