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National Museum of African American History Wants to Preserve Site of Tamir Rice Death

Cudell Recreational Center gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot. (Nick Castele/ideastream)

Cudell Recreational Center gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot. (Nick Castele/ideastream)

The city of Cleveland will put a 30-day hold on demolition of the gazebo where Tamir Rice was shot to death, following a request by the Smithsonian Institution to preserve it.

Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, reached out to the city law department and asked officials to postpone deconstruction after learning the institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture plans to restore the site for its historical significance.

Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry confirmed that Senior History Curator William Pretzer contacted her in an email on Monday, saying the museum “is in talks with Black Lives Matter concerning options for preserving the gazebo, given its importance to African-American history,” Cleveland.com reports.

According to Fox 8, city officials were originally scheduled to tear down the rec center site in early May.

Last week, family attorney Subodh Chandra told cleveland.com that the family supported demolition in favor of a “tasteful, modest” memorial in its place. The site has become a makeshift memorial, complete with stuffed toys, flowers and letters of support.

Chandra indicated the family was now in support of preservation efforts.

“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.”

Tamir, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police at the Cudell Recreation Center gazebo on Nov. 22, 2014. The officers arrived on scene in response to a 911 call reporting a “guy with a pistol,” though the caller admitted it was “probably fake.” The gun turned out to be a toy replica.

Members of a grand jury failed to indict shooting officer Timothy Loehmann last December. The family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the city recently reached a settlement of $6 million.

It is unknown whether the museum will relocate the gazebo to the museum’s future site in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian announced in February that the much-anticipated museum would open on Sept. 24 of this year. Chief Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told the Associated Press that President Barack Obama would conduct the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. A weeklong celebration was expected to follow, to include an outdoor festival and a 24-hour long open-hour period on the National Mall.

The AP reported the museum had previously built an 11-exhibit collection “to trace the history of slavery, segregation, civil rights and African-Americans’ achievements in the arts, entertainment, sports, the military and the wider culture.”

Other artifacts on display would include the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation, both signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Ideastream.org reports a spokeswoman for the museum, Fleur Paysour, said the institution had no immediate plans to add the gazebo to its current collection.

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