The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is set to open in September 2016, and in honor of its grand opening, the museum wishes to honor the memory of Tamir Rice, by preserving the gazebo where he was fatally shot by police in 2014.
Tamir, who was just 12 years old, was shot by police officer Timothy Lehmann after he and his partner responded to a call about a ‘man’ in a park carrying a gun (it was later learned Tamir was carrying a toy, pellet gun). Reports say Loehmann fired two shots in a matter of seconds of arriving on the scene, one of which hit Tamir in his torso. Tamir died the following day on November 23, 2014. Despite various reports and evidence, a grand jury failed to indict either officers involved in his death.
The demolition of the gazebo was set to begin this week, but the museum’s History Curator, William Pretzer pleaded the city to postpone the destruction, in hopes of its preservation. If the city does grant the museum rights to the structure, it is unclear whether it will be relocated to Washington, D.C., where the museum will be opened. However, the museum has confirmed their contact with members of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Rice family concerning their options for its preservation, and ensuring it will be a tasteful and modest memorial, according to Clevland.com
Tamir’s family attorney Subodh Chandra spoke in an interview May 2 about the family’s support for the gazebo’s relocation, and its exhibition in the major museum.
“Ms. Rice was interested in seeing the gazebo demolished and gone,” Chandra said. “But when she heard about this proposal, she understood the historic importance of [the gazebo] and was supportive of the concept if the museum is interested in acquiring it and will handle the matter in a tasteful and appropriate way.”
The Smithsonian has asked the city to hold off demolition of the gazebo for 60 days, as it explores options for its preservation.