Construction crews erected a chain-link fence Thursday around the lot of an L-shaped strip mall in South L.A. where Nipsey Hussle lived out his dreams — and where those dreams ended when he was gunned down on March 31.
The 8-foot-high fence is around the parking lot and Hussle’s store, The Marathon Clothing, which has turned into a magnet for tourists, but has been closed since his death.
On Instagram, the lot’s owner explained that the decision was made to start the “early development stages of the forthcoming Nipsey Hussle Tower.”
“The fence is part of a larger plan that got hatched a longtime ago so we see that as a continuation of that vision,” said Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
There also have been concerns about safety in the area, however.
The Los Angeles Police Department has increased patrols at the lot in recent weeks, and has been working with the property owner to install lighting and other measures after some tourists were robbed and officers made several arrests for gun possession.
On Thursday, Venita Thomas, 54, of Kansas City, Mo., scribbled her name on a mural of Hussle in the nearby alley, which will remain open to the public. She had brought her granddaughter to the spot to see a piece of history and feel Hussle’s presence, but was disappointed to learn that a blockade was erected around the area.
“It’s disappointing,” she said. “This is a landmark now. Like Tupac, he’s a legend in his own right.”
She felt the need to come to The Marathon Clothing store much like she felt the need to go on the tour of Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta.
“It brings me to tears, being here,” she said.
Adream Reese, 42, of Dallas snapped photos of the store’s sign before the fence covered the view. She said she hopes they’re doing something positive in memory of Hussle. She brought her 17-year-old son to be in a space where the rapper and community activist sold CDs in his youth.
“We need those type of people for our kids to look up to,” Reese said.
Kahllid Al-Alim, president of the Park Mesa Heights Community Council, said he was concerned about how the fence would affect the other businesses in the lot, as well as people who want to mourn Hussle.
Fans, both tourists and locals, should be able to grieve for him “in a way that’s reflective of his family’s values and what he would have wanted,” Al-Alim said. But he noted that nearby residents have complained about increased traffic and cars blocking their driveways. Ultimately, he said he hopes the fence will be an interim measure.
“I’m not sure what the fence would accomplish,” Al-Alim said. “I hope we can get past the fence real quickly.”
Hussle, 33, was fatally shot in broad daylight outside of his store. Two other men were wounded. Police have described the shooting as the culmination of a personal dispute. A fledgling rapper, Eric Holder, 29, has been indicted on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and other charges.
Memorials in the days after his death drew huge crowds to South L.A., and one night, became chaotic as people scattered amid rumors of gunfire.