By Kristina Dixon
HYDE PARK — Fears of catching the coronavirus or the rules implemented by Mayor Eric Garcetti didn’t prevent fans, loved ones and celebrity rapper YG from gathering at Nipsey Hussle Square March 31 to remember rapper Nipsey Hussle one year after he was shot to death.
Passionate and loyal supporters of the former gang member who became a rap legend expressed their different emotions when speaking of Hussle.
“Nipsey meant a lot to me,” Diamonte Walker said. “I’m from here. I’m not good at talking about this. I’m emotional.”
“Nipsey meant a lot to this community,” Marvin Harrell said. “He was a young black man who represented strength, tolerance and integrity. He started from the bottom and went all the way up.”
The Marathon Clothing store that Hussle owned remains fenced off and covered. The alley behind the store was closed to the public with yellow tape and barricades, upsetting news for those who came to deliver flowers, candles, liquor and take photos in front of the art murals.
Hussle was shot and killed March 31 shortly after getting into an argument outside his shop. Eric Holder was arrested two days after the shooting and has been charged with killing Hussle. He is still awaiting trial.
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Michael Pounds of the 77th Street Division and other officers kept an eye on the crowd that gathered despite the stay-at-home warnings that have accompanied the coronavirus scare.
“We don’t want to dampen people’s excitement about Nipsey’s anniversary, but it’s really important that people don’t contract coronavirus,” Pounds said. “We have a large amount of people congregating. It’s very important for people to stay home. The mayor and the governor have issued an order.
“People are dying. We’re trying to limit the amount of people contracting the dangerous coronavirus, Pounds added.
Harrell didn’t seem to mind the police presence.
“The officers must keep everything under a constructive manner and contained so we won’t infect one another,” he said. “It’s for our own protection. Often times we don’t know how to protect ourselves, so there’s others who will make sure we’re protected.”
Loved ones gathered at a house on Brynhurst Avenue to celebrate Hussle’s legacy.
“Nip is legendary,” Mika Brewer said. “He promoted positivity and united people all over the world. I am a nursing assistant. I came after work to celebrate his anniversary.”
Fans in cars screamed “Neighborhood” out their windows while blaring Hussle’s music at the busy intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.
Nipsey was a unique young man,” said Van Vabers, who was supporting black business by providing them with takeout from neighboring business Woody’s Bar-B-Que. “Despite his exterior looks, he was a positive role model. He wanted young brothers to do something positive, other than gang bang and sell dope.
“He also was business-minded. He gave a lot. He’d see a homeless person and he wouldn’t walk past them without giving them something. I miss him. I don’t know his music, but I know him. He’s all right, we need more like him.”
“I grew up around this area,” Carina Calderon said. “Nipsey makes everybody think. My family knows him and his music. I’m here to pay my respects.”