You’ve probably been thinking, “It’s been 24 or even 36 hours since there was any breaking news about Nipsey Hussle. What’s up?” Fortunately, the New York Times is here to deliver your fix:
By Tim Arango
April 19, 2019
LOS ANGELES — When a gunman rolled up to Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store late last month, the first person to be shot was Kerry Lathan, recently released from prison and there to pick up a T-shirt. Mr. Lathan was shot in the back, before Hussle, the renowned rap artist, was killed.
Days later, Mr. Lathan, using a wheelchair while he recovered from his wound, was arrested and held in the Men’s Central Jail — not because he had committed a crime, but because he had violated parole by associating with a known gang member: Nipsey Hussle.
Never mind that Hussle had been lauded as a businessman and a philanthropist, mourned with a 25-mile procession through the streets of South Los Angeles, and celebrated by former President Barack Obama. Or that he had been killed one day before he was set to sit down with the city’s police chief to talk about reducing gang violence.
I presume the man arrested for Mr. Hussle’s murder was also on the gang list.
… According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, about 20 percent of people released from state prisons are sent back for technical violations, meaning they did not commit a new crime but rather violated conditions, like a ban on entering places that serve alcohol or having any contact with the police — or, in the protracted case of the rapper Meek Mill, an order to take etiquette classes.
Critics say probation and parole often go on far longer than necessary and keep people enmeshed in the criminal justice system, and that those accused of violations have limited due process.
California, once a leader in get-tough-on-crime policies that swelled prison populations, is now seen as at the forefront of national efforts to address mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system….
But many parole violations involve alleged links to gang members.
“Gangs are the great exception” to the trend away from incarceration, said Jorja Leap, a gang expert at the University of California at Los Angeles. Even with significant questions about how gangs, gang membership and gang-related crimes are defined, such crimes carry enhanced punishments and a person tagged as having gang affiliations can find the label impossible to shake.
Crime reporter Sam Quinones (author of Dreamland on opioids) pointed out how the Bratton Era LAPD made a huge leap forward in effectiveness by dumping the old strategy of focusing on arresting the gang kingpin. It turns out, however, you don’t have to be a criminal mastermind to be top man in a gang. And there’s always another gangbanger ready to take the kingpin’s place. Instead, California law enforcement about a decade ago just started mass arrests to roll up all the members of the gang at once.
“If someone like Nipsey Hussle is viewed as always a gang member,” Dr. Leap said, “what is happening to the average guy who has a low-level job, who’s trying to make it, and that’s his past? Or the average gal, because it’s men and women alike.”
California has long maintained a database of gang members called CalGang, and apparently Hussle, who had spoken publicly about his past experience as a member of the Crips, was still listed, despite the turn in his life.
He was not just an aspiring rapper, he was a rapper! That he happened to be murdered by a gang member is just a huge coincidence.
For some reason, I’m reminded of the long-forgotten Italian-American Civil Rights League. From Wikipedia:
Its stated goal was to combat pejorative stereotypes about Italian-Americans.
The group began as the Italian American Anti-Defamation League on April 30, 1970, when approximately 30 Italian-Americans, led by mobster Joseph Colombo, picketed the Manhattan headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). …
The 30 demonstrators who appeared at the FBI building were joined by others in successive days, and ultimately their number grew to more than 5,000. The group then adopted the name “Italian-American Civil Rights League” after Colombo’s attorney, Barry Slotnick, had suggested it. …
Within two months, the organization claimed 45,000 dues-paying members, and held a large rally in Columbus Circle on June 28, 1970. The league gained further momentum when Frank Sinatra held a benefit concert in its honor at Madison Square Garden in November of that year.
The group then turned its attention to what it perceived as cultural slights against Italian-Americans, using boycott threats to force Alka-Seltzer and the Ford Motor Company to withdraw television commercials the league objected to, and also got United States Attorney General John Mitchell to order the United States Justice Department to stop using the word “Mafia” in official documents and press releases. The league also secured an agreement from Albert S. Ruddy, the producer of The Godfather, to omit the terms “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” from the film’s dialogue, and succeeded in having Macy’s stop selling a board game called The Godfather Game. The IACRL boycotted the Ford Motor Company because of its sponsorship of the television show The F.B.I. and its negative references to Italian-Americans as gangsters. Alka-Seltzer was boycotted for its “Dat’s a Spicy Meatball” ad campaign.
In the spring of 1971, the IACRL announced that it had purchased land for use as a summer camp, known as Camp Unity, in upstate Rosendale, New York. The camp covered 250 acres (1.0 km2) and was open to all underprivileged New York City youth, regardless of ethnic background.
On June 28, 1971, the league held another rally in Columbus Circle. At the rally, Colombo was shot three times in the head by a man who was then immediately shot and killed; the blast left Colombo in a coma from which he would never recover (he died on May 22, 1978). Theories abounded as to the motive for the shooting; the most commonly held belief was that other Mafia bosses in New York ordered the hit because they did not like the media attention Colombo and the group were receiving. The organization, at that time believed to number more than 100,000, had effectively disappeared within a year after the shooting.