The Domestic Violence Tree of Hope ceremony is personal in the 14th District


Fabian Saldana, 14th District Commander, talks with Jelaine Rizzo, Justina Robinson and Jackie Robinson after the ceremony

Daughters of Veronica Rizzo-Acevedo are still dealing with their loss of more than two years ago, but they had words of advice at this year's 14th District Domestic Violence Tree of Hope ceremony. 

Their mother Veronica, in her 18th year as a Chicago Police Officer, was part of the 14th District staff on April 19, 2014. The next morning, Easter Sunday, she was found dead in her bedroom at 5:15 a.m. on Chicago's southwest side with her husband. 

According to reports, her husband Javier Acevedo, a 23-year Cook County Corrections Officer murdered his wife, then turned the gun on himself, inflicting a fatal shot. Both were 50 years old. 


A commemoration of Veronica Rizzo hangs on the Tree of Hope

Rizzo-Acevedo's daughters Jacquelyn (Jackie) Robinson, 33; Jelaine Rizzo; and 26-year-old Justina Robinson, her youngest daughter, shared some thoughts and advice about dealing with loss as they continue to do since their mother's murder. This is what they advised:

"It's hard, but if you have family, stick together."
"Do one thing at a time."
"Get the support you need." 
"It's all about taking care of yourself."
"I believe in going through the grieving."
"Let yourself feel it…don't get stuck on it." 

They explained that their mother had a lot of friends and family. "We were not isolated, on our own or alone." 

"It was shocking to a lot of other police officers who knew her. They cover such cases for a living, but to have it happen to someone they knew was shocking." 


Liz Rios stands next to the tree after it was lit

One of those who experienced the loss is Liz Rios, 14th District Community Organizer. The survivor of domestic violence herself, Rios explains about the "14th District Domestic Violence Tree of Hope." The tradition of having the tree each year started 19 years ago. 

"It actually started with a local alderman having a big tree outside. Then each year the tree traveled to different locations around the district such as Kimball and Diversey, the Humboldt Park Library and elsewhere. Then we decided to bring it indoors

"Two years ago, we focused on dedicating it to Veronica here at the station." 

The ceremony includes, poems, singing, prayers and the lighting of the tree. This year's ceremony was on Dec. 1.



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