Several candles cover the parking lot of the South LA plaza on Wednesday, April 3. Fans of Nipsey Hussle continue to gather around his store The Marathon Clothing to pay their respects. Photo credit: Jun Ueda

Nipsey Hussle’s death leaves a hole in a grieving community

April 7, 2019

Thousands have gathered on the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue for over a week to pay their respects to rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle, 33, who was shot and killed on Sunday, March 31.

Among the masses of people in the Crenshaw district mall strip a man who goes by Cowboy said he was close with Hussle himself. Cowboy said he was at the scene when Hussle was shot and has been visiting the vigil every day since.

“Nip was all about peace,” Cowboy said. “For us to do anything other than peace, that would be going against what Nip would’ve wanted.”

Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was a rapper and a member of the Rollin 60’s Crips, but to his community, he was someone who achieved fame and money without leaving his people behind.

“He helped out a lot of people in the community, less fortunate people”, Cowboy said. “He was hope to us, he was hope to a lot of people.”

Hussle was shot and killed outside his store The Marathon Clothing last Sunday by Eric Holder, a gang member and aspiring rapper, as a result of personal dispute, not gang-violence, according to the Los Angeles Times. Every day since his murder, the South Los Angeles or South-Central community put on a candlelight vigil outside the store in Hussle’s memory.

On Monday, April 1, a stampede broke out at the vigil sending several people to the hospital, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the speculation that the stampede was a result of gunshots being fired and stabbings, Cowboy said the incident was misrepresented through the chaos and confusion.

“Monday night, it wasn’t what the news said it was”, Cowboy said. “Crowd got scared when a candle popped, nobody got stabbed. They fell on top of some candles and got cut.”

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Hundreds of candles line the front of The Marathon Clothing on Wednesday, April 3. Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed here just three days earlier. Photo credit: Jun Ueda

Since then, police have limited the number of entrances and exits in the mall strip and enforced a 10 p.m. curfew at the vigil for anyone wanting to pay their respects.

Gun violence in Los Angeles

The week Hussle died, there were a total of 26 shootings in Los Angeles, noted by the LA Times as a surge in light of low crime rates compared to recent years.

In 2018, 417 people were killed by gunfire in LA, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2019, there have already been 90 shooting deaths, including Hussle’s.

Due to the rise in violence, El Camino College student and South Central resident Alyssa O’Neill said there has been an increasing worry within the community.

“Ever since he [Hussle] got shot there’s been a lot of police in the area”, O’Neill said. “I don’t think a lot of people from South Central are comfortable.”

O’Neill said she usually commutes to campus via public transportation, taking Metro bus lines. She uses the 108 and 710, the latter having a bus stop on Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue where Hussle was shot.

O’Neill said she now takes an Uber to school but emphasized that shootings like these create misconceptions of South Central.

“South Central is so much more than gangs and shootings,” O’Neill said.

Legacy

All around the Los Angeles area, people have commended Hussle for his work in the community, leaving behind messages and symbols of hope after his death.

“The community has been supportive of one another since Nipsey Hussle made it out of the hood and gave everything he had back to the community,” O’Neill said. “He was always teaching everyone to put everything you have out for others.”

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Bobby Z. Rodriguez spray paints a mural of Nipsey Hussle in an alleyway next to The Marathon Clothing in South LA on Wednesday, April 3. Rodriguez says Hussle deserved this mural sooner. Photo credit: Jun Ueda

Bobby Z. Rodriguez, an LA resident, spray painted a mural of Hussle in the alleyway next to the plaza on Wednesday, April 3.

“This mural should’ve been painted before out of respect for what he was doing for the community and he’s a prime example of entrepreneurship”, Rodriguez said. “I started last night, I got about an hour or two in.”

Hussle was known for trying to buy back his neighborhood. He owned several properties in LA, including a new Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) center he called Vector 90, aimed towards encouraging more people of color to pursue jobs in the STEM fields.

But during a time when LA is confused, grieving and angry, there has been unconditional support from people in the community who understood what Hussle meant to the neighborhood, including the police.

“The police has also been helpful, they’ve been working to keep the peace,” Cowboy said. “Nip was nothing but peace so, despite everything, it’s been a peaceful event. Everybody is showing their respects.”

Funeral service

Hussle’s “Celebration of Life” funeral service was hosted at the Staples Center Thursday, April 11.

Floyd Jackson, a South LA resident, said he met Hussle a couple of times and that he was a modern-day Malcolm X who was just trying to give back to the black community.

EC computer science major and assistant at the Warrior Food Pantry Isaiah Robinson said he attended the service because of the importance Hussle had in his life.

“I grew in the neighbhorhood and I was a friend of his,” Robinson said. “To see him die, it hurts.”

But Hussle’s influence was not limited to the South LA area as San Bernardino resident Aaron Bingham also visited the funeral service.

“I’m here supporting to be here for cuz Nipsey,” Bingham said. “Motivate everyone to do better in life, he taught me how to grind.”

Tarnisha from San Diego said she visited Hussle’s funeral service to represent the neighborhood legend.

Hussle’s funeral ended with a 25-mile “victory lap,” inspired by his final album, around the community in which he grew up.

Updated content April 20, at 9:18 p.m.

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