The Los Angeles Police Department allegedly had hip-hop artist and community activist Nipsey Hussle in its sights before he was shot and killed in front of his Marathon Clothing store in 2019. The LAPD had been targeting the street corner and store in South Central LA after law enforcement labeled it a “hot spot” for crime, according to a new report.
In March 2019, Hussle was gunned down by Eric Holder, who had previously argued with the “Hussle & Motivate” artist.
At the time of his death, Hussle was involved in several civic development projects to revitalize his Los Angeles neighborhood. For this reason, Holder reportedly claimed he was paid to kill Nipsey, unconfirmed sources told The Guardian. Holder said that he was propositioned by someone in the LAPD to assassinate Nipsey and that he was allegedly offered $75,000 for the hit, EUR reported.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which tracks surveillance of Black citizens and groups, shared internal LAPD records it had obtained with The Guardian. The records, obtained through public records requests, laid out how the LAPD invested resources into policing at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue and focused on the community gathering spot where Hussle had bought commercial space and was working to redevelop a corner strip mall, The Guardian reported.
“It was like everybody walking out of the shop would get harassed or arrested,” the newspaper stated.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition made the documents public on Nov. 8 in its new report on “data-driven” LAPD initiatives. The report analyzes a controversial and now-shuttered LAPD program called Operation Laser (an acronym for Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration) to prevent crime and “restore peace.”
The program was launched in 2011 to identify “chronic offenders” and specific locations linked to gun violence and gangs to “extract” criminal activity from communities. The program ceased in 2019.
Community activists charge that the initiative enabled surveillance, racial profiling, and harassment of Black and Latino residents.
The report claims the LAPD did not try to hide the harassment. Soon after Hussle opened The Marathon Clothing store in 2017, the LAPD tried to shut it down. The LAPD recorded 58 stops during the first week the store was open, but made only seven arrests, suggesting that for the vast majority of people stopped or detained, there was no probable cause to arrest them, The Guardian reported.
“LAPD was speculatively criminalizing the location,” said Shakeer Rahman, a Stop LAPD Spying organizer. The data that the officers collected could then be used to justify further targeting, he added. “Police are deployed to these locations, armed with what they’re told are these ‘data-driven trends’ … but those trends are just the racial profiling that police have always done.”
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