The gazebo where Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland Police for holding a toy gun has become a landmark of sorts. It’s turned into a place for collective mourning and a reminder of the same justice system that allowed the officers to walk away free.
The physical reminder of Rice’s death, and, to be quite honest, a somber memorial to black death, is being moved to the South Side of Chicago.
The gazebo will soon be in the ownership of the Rebuild Foundation, which is an organization run by artist Theaster Gates meant to rehabilitate the many unused and vacant properties in the city, according to the New York Times.
“What I thought was, how can we not just have exhibitions here?” Gates said. “The Arts Bank is a repository for black objects, and those objects sometimes carry pain and sometimes joy. What I wanted to know was, How could we be part of the change that happens in the city with regards to gun violence and police brutality?”
Gates plans to hold conversations with local activists and community members to find the best place to put what he hopes will become a site of prayer.
“We don’t just put this stuff out there,” he said. “When we do land on a site, we want to see it as a place to pray, to meditate, to have an open dialogue. We want this to be a place of both contemplation and amplification.”
While Gates appears to have the purest of intentions here, the choice to place the site of a traumatic death in a city plagued with black death and hope it’s treated as a memorial comes off as optimistic. When people look at the gazebo, they’ll likely think of the loss of life it was home to before anything and how we still live in a society where many don’t value black lives.
Rice’s own mother initially didn’t even want it to still be standing.
“I just really wanted it destroyed,” she said. “I didn’t want to see it ever again. It was a bad memory for me and a bad memory for that neighborhood, especially for the children.”
While she’s fortunately had the opportunity to grieve and move past the pain of losing her son, it’s a lofty assumption to think that the community will treat it as anything more than a reminder of death.
Photo Credit: Cleveland 19 News Screenshot