Deconstruction Begins On Gazebo Where Tamir Rice Was Shot

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Volunteer crews are deconstructing the gazebo where twelve year old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police nearly two years ago.  Deconstruction began early in the morning outside Cudell Recreation Center on the west side -- first with the removal of the concrete picnic tables from under the gazebo and then the scraping off of the shingles on top.  Rice had been sitting at one of the tables in 2014, moments before officers skidded to a stop just a few feet away and shot him within seconds.  That November, a 911 caller said a male was sitting on a swing and pulling a pistol in and out of his pants.  The “pistol” turned out to be a realistic looking airsoft gun. 

Over the next few days, two excavation and construction companies that have donated their time and resources will dismantle the gazebo piece by piece.  The parts will be shipped to Chicago on Monday.  Rebuild Foundation – a non-profit arts and community revitalization group in Chicago – is overseeing the move.  Amy Schachman is Rebuild’s Director of Programs & Development.

"We’re working with Miss Rice and her team and a team of peer organizations and activists and scholars in Chicago to develop a plan for what the afterlife of the gazebo will be there," Schachman said.  "We’re still working with the Tamir Rice Foundation to figure out the best and most sensitive way to have it be in the city."

Schachman continued, "We have an agreement with the Tamir Rice Foundation to have it with us through February, and then we’ll work with them either to keep the gazebo in Chicago or that the Rice Foundation would work with other organizations who are interested in bringing the gazebo to their cities for future projects."

A handful of onlookers including one carrying a Black Lives Matter sign watched the deconstruction as children played on the swings nearby. 

Herbert Stokes with the local activist group Black Man’s Army says he hopes a memorial will be built in the gazebo’s place, "to keep people reminded of what happened here but also the goodness that came out of this, the changing of a city, the awakening of a city – stuff that’s got to be done within the city, within the police department that’s gotta be corrected."

Though the gazebo will be gone, the nearby butterfly garden built by the neighborhood following the shooting remains for now.   A new Cleveland public school is slated to be built there.  Rice’s mother, Samaria, has requested that a tree, a rock, and a marker be placed near the gazebo site to remember Tamir.

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