A spokeswoman for The Smithsonian Museum has denied reported plans to preserve the gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down.
Smithsonian Media Relations Representative LaFleur Paysour said the museum is currently unaware of any person or organization in talks to preserve the gazebo.
“Contrary to reports, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is neither leading nor participating in any efforts to preserve the Cleveland gazebo,” Paysour said in a statement released Tuesday. “Designs for the 12 exhibitions that will be on view when the museum opens in September are already complete and the museum will not be considering additional collection items for some time.”
Cleveland.com previously reported city officials were asked to delay demolition of the site in an email sent by a senior curator, who said the museum was “in talks with Black Lives Matter concerning options for preservation of the gazebo, given its importance to African-American history.”
“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,” Senior History Curator William Pretzer wrote.
Paysour told Cleveland.com the email was poorly written and misinterpreted by Cleveland officials.
“It does indeed sound like we’re doing it, but it’s just not quite carefully worded,” Paysour said.
She said the museum was simply advising Black Lives Matter on options for preserving the structure.
“We’re only helping someone else who is interested in doing that. …. Facilitating for them to get the conversations going,” Paysour said. “We’re not involved in anybody’s preservation effort. We just got the ball rolling.”