Tamir Rice’s legacy will live on thanks to a new butterfly memorial that is now open to the public in Cleveland. On Saturday, The Tamir Rice Foundation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony unveiling Tamir’s butterfly memorial in Cudell Park, the same place where his life was taken almost eight years ago.
“This butterfly garden was created by Tamir’s community, who helped to turn it into something beautiful for better memories going forward, for the park, the Rice Family and the community,” reads a marker at the site.
On Instagram, the foundation told supporters that they wanted to create a commemorative plaque to honor the life of young Tamir as well as his 20th birthday, which would have been on June 25. The space was also dedicated in honor of Tamir’s sister, Tajai Rice, who was tackled by authorities after she arrived at the devasting shooting scene.
“The butterfly is an example of qualitative change that emerges after a series of quantitative changes made by the caterpillar. Ella Baker once referred to quantitative changes. She called it the spade work of organizing. The thankless minutiae, the community organizing that leads to the revolution of society,” Molly Nagin, the Vice President of The Tamir Rice Foundation, told local news station Cleveland 19.
In remarks during the ceremony, Sen. Sherrod Brown paid homage to the Rice family and Tamir while also recognizing the recent killing of Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio.
“We grieve for all the lives lost to gun violence in our community, but there is particular pain when that death comes at the hands of the very people who were supposed to protect all of us,” Brown said. “Tamir Rice’s life mattered. Jalyland Walker’s life mattered. All Black Lives Matter. And because of the work of this mother of Samaria rice, other sons and daughters will come to this place, and they will know that their lives matter too.”
Tamir was shot and killed by former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann in November 2014 after he mistook his fake gun for a real firearm. While Loehmann was never charged for killing Tamir, he has been shut down at every attempt to re-enter law enforcement, most recently in the past two weeks in a small town in Pennsylvania.
Tamir’s family and loved ones have kept his legacy alive and now, through this butterfly garden memorial, give a gift to the community he was snatched away from. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, played a large role in designing the commemorative piece. The special plaque features Tamir Face on the front with the words “in loving memory of my baby boy Tamir Rice.”
Speaking during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rice shared the importance of the memorial to her and her family.
A broken system with no remorse for human life has been designed to destroy family lives. We have to show unity love so we can beat this beast that has oppressed our lives. My son is one of the most painful sacrifices for the world to endure.
As his mother, the pain is so real. I will be in pain for the rest of my life. With my pain, I was able to turn it into power by being Tamir’s voice and seeing the vision for our community by being in service to the people, especially our youth, me and my family struggled daily, but through the grace of God, we’re taking one day at a time and living the best that we can.
This butterfly memorial is very important to me and my family. This is the last memory I have of my son playing in the park, as children should be able to play in parks in America.
Watch the full ceremony below: