CLEVELAND – The gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer is set to be dismantled this week and shipped to a Chicago museum for display.
The structure became a makeshift memorial to Tamir, who was playing with a pellet gun when he was killed on November 22, 2014.
An attorney says Tamir’s mother Samaria wanted the gazebo, located in the park at the Cudell Recreation Center, to become a symbol for what happened to him.
On Monday, ex-city councilman Jay Westbrook he’s been coordinating the deconstruction with officials at Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank.
He says a museum official will supervise the deconstruction, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Two local companies will be handling removal of the structure, which was piled with stuffed animals and flowers after Tamir’s death.
Family attorney Subodh Chandra has said Tamir’s mother originally wanted the gazebo demolished as seeing it in her neighborhood was too painful.
But she changed her mind as she came to understand its historic importance.
The Rice family now ‘hope to elevate the gazebo into a symbol of the civil rights movement,’ their attorney Bill Joe Mills told CNN.
A misunderstanding was blamed for initial incorrect reports earlier this year that the Smithsonian Institution wanted the gazebo for its black history museum in Washington.
Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone said that removing the gazebo made sense as the city also planned to demolish and rebuild the neighboring elementary school, which Tamir had attended.
Residents can attend community meeting to help determine how the recreational space will be used once the school is rebuilt, he said.
Zone said a tree and a stone plaque will be placed there in Tamir’s memory.
‘We’ve got to move on,’ Zone told CNN. ‘We’re turning the chapter here but we’re not trying to whitewash anything or walk away from this.’
Tamir was killed by patrol officer Timothy Loehmann within two seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near him outside a recreation center where the gazebo is located.
His death was among those that fueled the national Black Lives Matter movement, along with those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.
A witness had called 911 reporting a ‘guy with a pistol’ – but told operators that it was ‘probably’ fake.
But Lohemann said he thought the gun was real and that the boy seemed older.
In December last year, a grand jury chose not to indict the two responding police officers involved in Tamir’s shooting.