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Lincoln Police, Malone Center partner to plant trees in the community

LPD, Malone Center partner to plant trees in the community.
LPD, Malone Center partner to plant trees in the community.(Jared Austin)
Published: Oct. 4, 2020 at 10:56 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -As part of the new initiative Hold Cops Accountable, Lincoln Police and the Malone Center are working together to plant trees in the community.

One tree outside the Malone Center will be dedicated to investigator Mario Herrera. Leaders within the Malone Center said this is one of the first steps to show the Lincoln Community and Police working together.

The reason for planting trees is to show this relationship doesn’t stop here but continues for decades to come.

“I feel like I can make a change in the community,” said Ayat Acin, Lincoln High student.

Acin is a junior at Lincoln High, but on Sunday, he was helping plant trees at the Malone Center to signify a growing relationship with Lincoln Police.

“Black people haven’t been treated well in the past and still here in the present, but also supporting cops because they still are keeping us safe in our community as well,” Acin said.

He wasn’t alone, as several people, including LPD officers, were there to help continue to build this relationship.

“We want this relationship to put down roots in the community to flower, to blossom to be a symbol of unity,” said Officer Luke Bonkiewicz, LPD.

A symbol with trees showcasing that this relationship will continue to grow and be here for many more years.

One oak tree outside the Malone Center will also be in honor of Investigator Herrera.

“It means everything in the world to us that they remembered Mario and this gesture is incredibly profound,” said Bonkiewicz.

A memorial that’ll sit next to another honoring people who’ve been killed by police.

“I think is great because it shows we are worried about all life here. We are concerned with the safety of everyone in our community,” said Ishma Yusef Valenti, Malone Center.

“Mario was an oak in our department. He was tough. He was somebody who was embedded in the community. He was beloved by everybody and planting a tree is just so appropriate,” said Bonkiewicz.

LPD and the Malone Center are going to plant trees in all five police districts. Next month, they’ll have another collective event where they’ll give out food and presents to people.

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