Gardens event strives for ‘unity’ a year after Corey Jones shooting


In the aftermath of the most rancorous election cycle in recent history, there have been a lot of calls for unity nationwide.

Harmony can also start at home. Palm Beach Gardens and the Anita Banks Justice for Corey Foundation have been planning a free, family-friendly Unity Day from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at City Hall, 10500 N. Military Trail for months.

The event, totally unrelated to presidential politics, is designed to bring together people from different communities across the county to encourage peace and healing a year after a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer fatally shot Corey Jones, a drummer and housing inspector, while he waited for a tow truck.

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The city’s police and administration began meeting with community leaders in the weeks after the shooting. They fast-tracked measures such as police-worn body cameras and a policy for plainclothes officers.

They realized, however, they had room to grow in the way of regional partnerships. The Justice for Corey Foundation’s leaders asked for something that would engage the community at large, city spokeswoman Candice Temple said.

They partnered together for Unity Day, which will feature lots of music and the creation of public art. People of all ages can paint a section of a giant canvas with a preprinted design that includes the word “unity” and related symbols, Temple said.

“Nothing says unity more than a joint work of art,” she said.

Phil Fung, the Miami artist who created the canvas, will also paint a piece at the event incorporating the hopes and wishes people write on Post-it notes.

A DJ will play music at the pavilion that’s normally used for the Gardens Greenmarket, where there will be hula hoop, jump rope and Skip-It contests. The new plaza closest to City Hall will have live performances and speakers about the foundation’s mission, Temple said.

A hay ride can be used as a trolley to get to four stops around the municipal complex. The Palm Beach Gardens Fire Department will have games for children and an antique fire engine for people to check out and photograph.

The city’s not putting all of its hope for unity in one day. Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp and his command staff have started attending monthly meetings of a regional alliance of African American clergy.

An ideal like unity can take a long time and a lot of trust to achieve. Celebrating life’s joys such as art and music together is a good place to start.


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