CLEVELAND, Ohio – The gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police in 2014 appears to be headed for a museum in Chicago.
Cleveland City Council on Wednesday night adopted legislation authorizing the city to accept donations from the Ozanne Construction Company and Independence Construction for services to deconstruct and remove the gazebo — which stands as a grim reminder of the tragedy outside the Cudell Recreation Center on the city’s West Side.
Councilman Matt Zone said during a Committee of the Whole hearing Wednesday that the gazebo will be transferred to the Tamir Rice Foundation and stored in donated space for up to six months. Then, the foundation is expected to send it to Chicago to be displayed at a new museum called the Stony Island Arts Bank, Zone said.
Zone said he expects deconstruction to take place by early September. And eventually, a stone memorial to Tamir will be installed, he said. Zone added that former City Councilman Jay Westbrook was instrumental in lining up the donated services involved in the effort.
The gazebo’s fate was the subject of minor controversy earlier this year.
In May, poor communication from the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture created a false impression that the national museum wanted to preserve the gazebo.
The museum’s Senior History Curator William Pretzer told Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry in an email that he was writing on behalf of the museum to request a delay of the demolition, which originally had been slated for that week.
“Our museum is in talks with Black Lives Matter concerning options for preservation of the gazebo, given its importance to African-American history,” Pretzer wrote. “It is our understanding that the Rice family is supportive of this concept. We will need about 60 days to finalize our discussions regarding this matter.”
In response to Pretzer’s correspondence, Langhenry said the city would delay demolition of the gazebo for 30 days “to allow the discussion to continue.”
A museum spokeswoman later walked back Pretzer’s comments and said the museum was only trying to help Black Lives Matter, which had expressed interest in the preservation of the gazebo.
Tamir was shot Nov. 22, 2014, as police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call about a “guy” with a gun in the park. Tamir turned out to have been in possession of a pellet gun.
A grand jury declined to indict the officers in December in connection to the shooting. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, which resulted in a $6 million settlement in April. An internal review of the events surrounding Tamir’s death is ongoing.