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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

By Dennis J. Freeman

 

LOS ANGELES—The shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle has left communities throughout Los Angeles and across the world, devastated.

As word spread that the Crenshaw native had been murdered in broad daylight, Sunday afternoon in front of his signature business on the corner of Slauson Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd., fans from across the region came to pay tribute to the late entertainer.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. He means so much to this area right here, just African American people in general,” said Andre Moore. “His business mind, where he comes from, how he came up. He was an inspiration to a lot of people, and of course, he had a family. It’s a tragic situation. It’s a loss to the community, his family, the music world. It’s a tragic and unfortunate incident. It’s gotta stop at some point in time.”

By Sunday evening, a throng of several hundred people made their way to a growing vigil outside The Marathon Clothing store he opened in 2017. Some came out of curiosity, bringing their children. But for most, weaving their way past police barricades and yellow tape while navigating through the blockage in traffic, Nipsey Hussle was a man of the people.

For many, he ‘walked the walked’ when it came to community philanthropy, re-investing back into the local neighborhood, and trying to create an awareness of local pride. Evelyn (Lynn) Esceves was born and grew up in South Los Angeles. She knows the neighborhood well.

Despite the high rate of crime and violence in the community, Nipsey Hussle stood above all of that with his charitable works and entrepreneurship.

“He started buying property over here, so he was giving jobs to people in the community,” Esceves said. “Nipsey was all about being positive. He was giving back to the community. They didn’t like that and that’s why they had to shoot him down.”

Esceves would not elaborate on her theory why Hussle was shot down, but her husband, Jaycee Esceves, said that Hussle was about as cool a person as he had ever met. Esceves said he had a couple of chance encounters with the rapper/entrepreneur, and always found him approachable.

So, the violent death stunned him.

“There’s a lot of hate still in this world,” Mr. Esceves said. “It’s crazy. People trying to make it out of the ‘hood and do something positive and try to better your life…it’s sad. He was a real one. He was a real guy. He was a positive role model to everybody in the community. He was so positive and trying to give back. It’s tragic that somebody would come and take his life.”

As the evening wound down, the crowd at the intersection of Slauson and Crenshaw grew bigger and more boisterous. There were hugs, tears, and even dancing as the music of Nipsey Hussle blared loudly from a truck speaker.

There was also a sense of disbelief and anger.

Jaisen, who requested his last name not be used, said he was flabbergasted.

“I respect him as a businessman,” Jaisen said. “He gave so many people jobs. There’s a lot of people eating because of him. He was fixing up his community. He was born and raised here and he was trying to do that. He even did something with the school over here and fixed up their basketball courts. He was making sure everybody around here did right. He was trying to make change. He’s gone too soon. He was making a difference.”

Community activist Najee Ali held a press conference on Monday to talk about what Nipsey Hussle meant to people in that community.

“Nipsey was our hero,” Ali said. “He was a champion for the underserved. He was a role model for our youth. Nipsey Hussle was someone who walked the streets of Crenshaw.”