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My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns what I believe to be the inordinate adulation shown to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. Hussle, whose true name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot to death on March 31 outside the clothing store he owned in Los Angeles. Eric Holder (no, not that one) has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.
On April 11, Hussle’s funeral was held before an audience of 21,000 in LA’s Staples Center, making him the second person so honored. (The first was Michael Jackson; make of that what you will.) After the funeral, Hussle’s hearse led a chaotic procession on a 25-mile tour of South Los Angeles, a tour which, as I noted in the piece, scarcely passed a single block that hadn’t been the scene of at least one murder in the last 20 years. LAPD brass called the event a success when only four people were shot (one fatally) and only four police cars were vandalized.
South Los Angeles is policed by four patrol divisions within the LAPD, Southwest, 77th Street, Southeast, and Newton, and at various times in my career with the department I worked at all of these stations. It was in these assignments that I became familiar with the gang culture that prevails in the area, a culture that has sown more death and misery than I can come close to describing. I can’t possibly count all the murder scenes I went to, to say nothing of the more frequent non-fatal shootings. During my time working in South LA, I responded to at least one shooting every night and at least one murder every week. The utter waste of young life I witnessed continues to haunt me.
And yet Nipsey Hussle, who emerged from this gang culture, embraced it, profited handsomely from it, and ultimately died because of it, is hailed as a hero, even a “ghetto saint” in the words of Michael Eric Dyson, who, one presumes, should be smart enough to know better. Barack Obama sent an admiring letter to Hussle’s family. “I’d never met Nipsey Hussle,” he wrote, “but I’d heard some of his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work.”
One wonders if this song was among those Sasha and Malia Obama favored, and what Mr. Obama’s opinion might be of the message it conveys. (Warning: abundant coarse language.)
Let there be no confusion here. Mr. Obama’s sentiments notwithstanding, the only transformation Nipsey Hussle experienced was that of changing from a poor gang member to a rich one, albeit one who invested some small portion of his acquired wealth in a handful of local businesses. He never disavowed his membership in the Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips, on whose hands can be found the blood of hundreds of murder victims. Indeed, in interviews and the lyrics to his music, he continued to boast of his membership in the gang right up until his death.
Local politicians displayed the same lack of moral courage. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, as spineless a man as ever drew breath, joined in the fawning praise, posting a tribute to Hussle on his Facebook page. But even worse than that, and even more insulting to the law-abiding residents of the city, especially those who live in daily fear of the Rollin’ 60 Crips, is the news that the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, near the scene of Hussle’s death, will soon be christened as Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square.
And after being so named, we’ll wait to see who has the distinction of being the first person to be murdered there.