But Hussle wasn’t killed because he was a symbol of black liberation. He was killed because, as the old adage goes, not everyone in your circle is necessarily in your corner.
These conspiracy theories were so easy for some to grasp because the truth is much more difficult to accept. Hussle was killed right outside his own clothing store in broad daylight. The Los Angeles police have asserted that a 29-year-old suspect named Eric Holder murdered Hussle over a personal beef. TMZ cited unnamed law-enforcement sources as saying that Holder, who was captured after a two-day manhunt, had resorted to violence because he felt disrespected by Hussle.
If Hussle hadn’t been a well-known rapper, the story of his death would be sadly ordinary because of the grim statistics on the proliferation of violence in the black community.
According to FBI crime statistics, more than 15,000 Americans were murdered in 2017, and a staggering 51.9 percent of the victims were black. Although violent crime has decreased in Los Angeles in the past year, Hussle’s death, unfortunately, was part of a recent wave of violence in the South Los Angeles area where the rapper operated his business. Last week, 26 people were shot, and 10 died.
Read: Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean American dream
The most recent crime statistics in Los Angeles show that despite the fact that blacks account for just 8 percent of the city’s population, they make up 36 percent of homicide victims. Compare that with the homicide rate for whites, who are 29 percent of the Los Angeles population, but only 5 percent of the city’s homicide victims.
Even though the plague of violence in African American communities has been known for years, it’s more comforting to think that—as one theory went—Hussle’s death was tied to the documentary he was working on about the controversial Honduran healer Alfredo Bowman, better known as Dr. Sebi. Before dying in 2016, Bowman claimed to have herbal cures for arthritis, AIDS, and diabetes, as well as other, terminal diseases. For years, conspiracists have pushed the idea that Bowman was killed because he was a threat to big pharmaceutical companies.
For another group of conspiracists, it’s more comforting to think that, because Hussle joined with the real-estate developer David Gross to open a co-working space and STEM center in his old Crenshaw neighborhood, and was scheduled to meet with the Los Angeles police to discuss solutions for curbing gang violence in South L.A., the establishment feared him so much that it took his life. (Don’t even ask why the establishment would cut him down for preventing violence.)
There are certainly plenty of precedents for black leaders and change agents dying long before they should have. Shamefully, there are too many examples of our own government abusing its power to undermine those who dared to challenge the status quo. African Americans haven’t forgotten that the FBI spied on Martin Luther King Jr. and worked tirelessly to discredit him and other civil-rights leaders because of their growing power.