GRAND CROSSING — Artist Theaster Gates said Wednesday he plans to install the gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Cleveland in 2014.
Gates received the gazebo in 2016 from the City of Cleveland and said Wednesday after a meeting with Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, he now feels ready to install the gazebo at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.
He said the gazebo has been in storage in his Grand Crossing studio since 2016 while he thought about how to display the object that has become a symbol of the tensions between police and African-American communities.
“We’re going to stay pretty true to the object,” Gates said.
He said doesn’t plan to the alter the gazebo much when it is installed in a lot on the north side of the arts bank in August.
Gates said he also has saved some of the teddy bears and other memorabilia left at gazebo after Rice’s death and wants to find a way to work it into the project.
Billy Joe Mills, an attorney for the Rice family, said the family asked that the gazebo be preserved largely intact.
“We asked that the gazebo be preserved as much as possible because the city of Cleveland was destroying it,” Mills said. “The gazebo is something we’re trying to preserve for posterity, and at the same time it’s more than that, it’s a symbol.”
He said there will be some sort of display accompanying the gazebo that will put it into context but is not sure yet whether that will be a plaque or some other sort of marker.
He said he will be spending more time in Chicago this summer working on presenting the gazebo in a way that is respectful to the family and the ideas it has come to embody and other projects.
“This summer, I’m just trying to make time for the things we’ve started,” Gates said.
The officers who shot Tamir, who was playing with a toy gun in the gazebo, were not charged criminally, but one, Timothy Loehmann, was fired by the Cleveland Police Department in May for lying on his employment application.