Falcon Heights Observes 'Restoration Day' in Honor of Philando Castile

July 06, 2018 06:28 PM

The scene of Philando Castile's shooting two years later is a very different site.

Weathered ribbons have replaced the crime tape and a man places flowers where evidence tags had once littered the grass.


"It's still something significant that matters and it's important to remember it," said Laura Dupont-Jarrett, who makes a point to visit the site on Larpenteur Avenue and leave something in Castile's memory each year. This year, it was two handmade flowers she put together using office supplies to symbolize the two-year anniversary.

TIMELINE: Philando Castile Shooting

Just like the night of July 6, 2016, people still go to what's now known as the Castile Peace Garden to mourn.

"You can't talk about restoration unless you look back," said Melanie Leehy, the Falcon Heights City Council member who made it her mission to get the city to acknowledge what had happened and work to repair the damage and distrust.

Leehy has a big task in mind for her small town as the city recognizes its first ever "Restoration Day" in honor of Castile.

RELATED: Community Remembers Castile 1 Year after His Death

"Restore contact with your neighbor or a family member or a friend," she said of the purpose behind the declaration. "Do something restorative."

Its one of many efforts towards healing we've seen over the past two years since Castile's death.

A fundraiser wiped out school lunch debt across St. Paul in Castile's honor.

RELATED: Castile Memorial Fund Pays Off School Lunch Debt Across St. Paul District

Falcon Heights ended its contract with St. Anthony police, paying $300,000 more to Ramsey County to take over its law enforcement services.

RELATED: Falcon Heights Approves Policing Contract with Ramsey County

All while the St. Anthony police force asked for federal help to revamp its policies and protocol in an effort to better connect with the communities it still serves.

RELATED: St. Anthony Police Unveil New Collaborative Plan, Goals and Priorities

"I'd like to say that things have changed. I don't think that they have in the ways that are most significant," said Sandra Mitchell while she visited the Castile memorial site.

That's the purpose of Restoration Day. Leehy wants to encourage a change beyond policies and policing.

"To turn a very sad day around to a positive," said Leehy.  "I'm hoping that people write in their stories to City Hall and let us know what they've done. 'Hey, I'm talking to my neighbor.' 'Hey, I've restored with my brother again,' or whatever that might be."

RELATED: Jury Finds Yanez Not Guilty on All Counts in the Shooting Death of Philando Castile

A candlelight vigil will be held at the Castile Memorial site starting at 8 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, a picnic and barbeque will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at Falcon Heights City Hall to mark Unity Day in honor of Castile.

That day purposefully comes after Restoration Day to mark a time for healing after a day of reflection.


Katherine Johnson

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