As Los Angeles officials praised Nipsey Hussle as a community leader and applauded his peacemaking efforts in the days and weeks following his death, authorities at the LAPD and at the city attorney's office were investigating the rapper's alleged gang activity, the New York Times reports.
According to the report, city officials familiar with the issue have said they had an open investigation into Hussle, the properties he owned and operated, and his business partners to determine whether Marathon Clothing was a hub of gang activity. The probe didn't conclude after Hussle was fatally shot on the corner of Slauson and Crenshaw, but rather it is ongoing to this day.
The Times asserts that the open status of the investigation indicates that officials may try and take legal action against the rapper's business partners. Prior to his death, the city reportedly put pressure on Hussle's previous landlords to evict him from his storefront. Rather than complying, the landlords sold the space to Hussle, in partnership with a group of investors, for $2.5 million earlier this year.
Nipsey was previously a member of the Rollin’ 60s Crips, a Los Angeles gang that's been active since the '70s. However, Hussle disavowed his loyalty to the group and instead worked with local leaders and gang members themselves to rid Compton of rampant violence. The rapper was scheduled to meet with the LAPD Police Chief to discuss gang violence just one day after he was killed, and he often employed and worked with gang-affiliated inmates after they were released from prison.
According to the Times report, the tactics authorities employ to root out gang violence can make it difficult for onetime members like Hussle to rid themselves of those associations. In a statement to the outlet, University of California professor Jorja Leap, who has worked extensively with gang members, said this is indicative of a larger issue.
“I think ultimately, Nipsey Hussle did represent a model of anti-gentrification, keeping the neighborhood in the hands of the neighborhood. But people in those areas all have pasts," she said. “Someone can be a hero, someone may also have a past. Neighborhoods can want zealously to have public safety and public gathering places. But for better or worse, that may or may not include gang members.”
Given Nipsey's status in South Los Angeles as a hometown hero, the ongoing investigation into him, as well as his remaining business partners, will likely damage relationships between authorities and the black community who is still mourning his death.