Crews deconstruct gazebo where Tamir Rice was shot & killed

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 9:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2016 at 7:29 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Deconstruction is underway at the gazebo at the Cuddell Recreation Center where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland police in Nov. of 2014.

Wednesday morning crews began tearing the gazebo down, but it won't be demolished. The gazebo will be preserved and moved to Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago. Led by former City Councilman Jay Westbrook, several Cleveland leaders worked out a plan and had all of the services donated.

Former councilman Jay Westbrook was asked "If it stays here is it maybe a reminder of negatives as opposed to someplace where there's more of a
historical perspective."  He said "I think it needs to transcend to a place and point where it is a point of reminder and memory."

For the last two years, the gazebo has served as a memorial. People from all over the area and county have left candles, stuffed animals, flowers, photos and prayers to help keep Tamir's memory alive. Those items have been moved to the memorial butterfly garden nearby and will stay in Cleveland.

Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, originally wanted the gazebo demolished but changed her mind after learning about the historic importance of preserving it.

Some are concerned that without the gazebo here, people will forget about what happened to Tamir. But Councilman Zack Reed said this goes beyond the local area.

"I think that this is more than just Cleveland history," he said. "I think this is national history. I think this goes as far as Trayvon Martin, you know, two young boys in their neighborhood, doing what young boys do, and tragically find themselves dead. That's more than just a local story, that's a national story."

There are plans to still memorialize Tamir at Cudell.  Several have talked about putting a stone memorial in place of the gazebo but the plan is still in the works.

Crews started taking the gazebo down around 9:45 a.m, working through the light rain that started Wednesday morning.  Several leaders and community activists attended, including Molly Nagin, who designed the Tamir Rice memorial garden, and Sgt. Major Stokes of the Black Man's Army.

Stokes noted "You cannot and will not forget Tamir Rice.  What he did he shook up a city, he shook up the City of Cleveland."

Tamir was shot in Nov. of 2014 after rookie cop Timothy Loehmann and police officer Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call about a "guy" with a gun in the park. It turned out Tamir had a pellet gun.

Last year a grand jury decided not to indict the officers in connection to the shooting.  The Rice family settled a "wrongful death" lawsuit against the City of Cleveland for $6 million dollars.

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