Smithsonian Museum Denies Reports of Plans To Preserve Location Where Tamir Rice Was Killed

Photo by Associated Press

Earlier this week, Fox 8 Cleveland reported that the Smithsonian Museum was in talks to preserve the site where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down by a Cleveland police officer just under two years ago. Now, a representative for the Museum says the reports are false. 

The local Cleveland community quickly turned the gazebo where Tamir lost his life into a makeshift memorial following his senseless death in November of 2014. Plans to demolish the site this week and turn it into an official memorial for Tamir were allegedly put on hold to accommodate the new plans of preserving it for The Smithsonian, but a media rep for the historic museum says no such plans are in place.  

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"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," Smithsonian Media Relations Representative Le Fleur Paysour said in a statement. "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. At this writing we know of no person or organization actively involved in discussions about preserving the gazebo."

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Although Tamir's family was previously onboard with the plans to demolish the gazebo altogether and erect a proper memorial site instead, family attorney Subodh Chandra told Fox 8 that Tamir's mother Samaira is open to the idea of having it preserved by The Smithsonian. "Ms. Rice was interested in seeing the gazebo demolished and gone," fhe 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."

Chandra has since expressed "confusion" to Fox * in response to the Smithsonian's denial of any plans to preserve the gazebo.

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Tamir lost his life back in 2014 when an officer, who was responsing to a call about "a guy" with "a gun," mistook the toy gun Tamir had for a real one and fired two fatal shots at him that ultimately took his young life.

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