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On Saturday, Ward 8 activist Retta Gilliam would have turned 44. Instead, because of a tragic traffic accident last spring, a small crowd gathered in Anacostia Park to honor her memory, along with that of James Banks, another departed Ward 8 leader. Main Street Anacostia, the community group that organized the ceremony, has been planting trees for fallen comrades since 2004; this year, two cherry trees were planted for Banks and Gilliam.
But divining which of the 15 trees is in honor of which activist is not yet possible—the group has no money for nameplates, which cost about $100 each. “We’re trying to do some fundraising for that,” says Main Street’s executive director, Yavocka Young, standing by Banks’ tree. Or Gilliam’s.
Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson, on hand beefing up her east-of-the-river cred, says she wasn’t aware of the fiscal shortage, but thinks her fellow councilmembers might be able to help out. “But not with public funds,” she says. “Maybe a hundred bucks a councilmember.”