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Accused Whitmer kidnap plotter says God gave permission to kill – The Detroit News01.20.21

An accused bombmaker identified as a ringleader of a plot to kidnap and harm Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed he had permission from God to commit murder and was the national leader of a militia group that rioted at the U.S. Capitol last week, an FBI agent said Wednesday.

The new details emerged as the accused ringleader, Barry Croft, 45, of Bear, Delaware, pleaded not guilty and was denied bond during a hearing in federal court in Grand Rapids. The hearing marked Crofts first appearance in a Michigan courtroom since being charged alongside five others in October in a case that has focused national attention on violent extremism in Michigan.

Barry Croft(Photo: Facebook)

Croft is the national leader of the 3 Percenters, a small militia that participated in the Jan. 6 insurgence at the U.S. Capitol, FBI Special Agent Richard Trask saidduring the hearing, which featured undercover audio and video recorded by FBI informants. At one point Wednesday, Croft was asked to stand and display the3 Percenters tattoo on his hand.

Prosecutors used those ties while arguing Croft was dangerous, a flight riskand should remain jailedamid warnings from the FBIaboutpotential armed protests by violent extremists at all 50 state capitols ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has askedWhitmer to activate the National Guard.

Prosecutors say Croft is a violent extremist who served as the bombmaker of a group that plotted to overthrow the government and targeted several other politicians, including President Donald Trump, Virginia Gov. RalphNorthamandSouth Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

This is probably the most committed violent extremist of the entire group, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler told the magistrate judge. There is no question this is a person committed to violent extremism and he is the one who brought the bomb.

Croft's lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, objected to the government mentioning the 3 Percenters role in the Capitol riot and said Croft and others accused in the kidnapping plot were simply "airing grievances" and lacked a plan.

"I don't think that's enough," Blanchard told U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens.

The judge, however, cited Croft's criminal record and violent rhetoric captured on secretly recorded FBI recordings in ordering the Delaware man jailed indefinitely.

Just because one plot was uncovered does not mean there arent other aims that Croft could direct his attention and his explosive tradecraft," Berens said.

Croft, who is being held at the Newaygo County Jail, facedsteep odds of beingreleased from custody while awaiting trial on a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. All five co-defendants charged in federal court are being held without bond thoughsome of the eight accused plotters facing charges in state courthave been released on bond.

His arrival in Michigan hadbeen delayed since October as prison officials minimized inmate transfers in hopes of stemming the spread ofCOVID-19. He was arrested in early October when the FBI saidagents hadthwarted a plotinvolving at least 14 men, including Croft, angered bystate restrictions on travel and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Croft citedthe pandemic as one reason he should be released, saying he fears contracting the virus while in jail. He also complained about the long delay in being brought to federal court in Michigan.

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Prosecutors, however, labeled Croft a violent extremist and said releasing him would be dangerous and unreasonable.

On Wednesday, they played multiple recordings that included Croft.

Croft was saying he was granted permission from God to commit murder, correct, Kessler asked the FBI agent.

Correct, Trask said.

Prosecutors portray Croft as a ringleader."He was the prime mover behind the groupsconstruction, testing and detonation of weapons of mass destruction," Kessler wrote in a court filing. The prosecutor also citedevidence revealed during bond hearings in October.

"Evidence adduced at those hearings established that Croft conspired with the other defendants to kidnap the governor ... brought materials for an improvised explosive device to a training exercise ... participated in the nighttime surveillance of the governors home ... stopped to inspect a bridge along the way that he planned to bomb ... and detonated a second test bomb with shrapnel for use in the plot," Kessler wrote.

Croft, who FBI agents say posted a hit list on Facebook targeting Muslims and politicians,including former President Barack Obama, complained about the delay in a court filing.

"The unreasonable delay of more than two months in bringing Mr. Croft to this district is frustrating Mr. Crofts ability to defend these charges," Croft's lawyer wrote in another filing.

Defense lawyers have portrayed their clients as toughtalkers who were exercising their FirstAmendment rights who never carried out any kidnapping plot.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews

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Competitiveness and hustle drive Hyland to the basket – The Commonwealth Times01.20.21

Sophomore guard Bones Hyland shoots a 3-pointer against JMU on Dec. 22. Photo by Megan Lee

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

When sophomore guard Nahshon Bones Hyland rose up for a deep 3-pointer at La Salle last season, his high school coach sat in the stands and said layup. It turned the heads of those who sat around him, but Rod Griffin knew the ball was going in.

The shot swished through the basket at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. It was something Griffin had seen from Hyland since his eighth grade season the first time he saw the Wilmington, Delaware native on a basketball court.

I saw him as an eighth grader, this long, lanky kid, Griffin said. He could shoot, and he made great passes. So hes always been that way. Hes always had that ability to shoot from anywhere.

The 6-foot-3-inch guards shooting ability was on full display a year ago, logging the most 3-pointers as a freshman in program history, knocking down 63.

His consistent shooting quickly made him a fan favorite. Some fans made signs with the words Bone Yard, and others held plastic bones in the air. The signs and props are a tribute to Hylands childhood nickname, Bones, attributed to his slender frame.

Bones is like the Pied Piper, Griffin said. He puts cheeks in the seats. People come to see him play.

Competitive Edge

When Hyland steps into the gym, hes locked in, said Mar Mason, his trainer in Delaware. He said the dog in Hyland is what sets him apart from others he wants to be the best.

One of the sayings is dont let anyone outwork you, Mason said. There aint too many people that are going to outwork him in the gym.

Mason has trained Hyland since his eighth grade season, and said Hylands drive and competitive spirit has made the sophomore a better player. Mason said Hyland finds it unacceptable if he misses twice in a row during drills.

No matter what, Ive always been a competitive guy who always wants to win, Hyland said. Ive always had that drive since I was younger.

Griffin, who coached Hyland all four years at St. Georges Tech in Middletown, Delaware, said Hylands biggest strength is being competitive.

He was going to make sure he was going to compete on every single play and be the best player on the court, Griffin said. His competitive nature and toughness has always been a couple of things that hes always done well.

Hylands motivation is on his arm and he looks at it every day a tattoo memorializing his grandmother and baby cousin who passed away in a house fire in 2018.

I just know like its just a voice in the back of my head, were proud of you just keep going, even though I miss them, Hyland said. But every day I look to my arm and say This is who Im doing it for.

Hyland said his mother motivates him each day after he watched her take care of his cousins on her own without any excuses. He said that her no excuse attitude is what he channels each day.

Taking care of numerous cousins and numerous nephews and nieces just on her own, Hyland said. Just seeing her be so strong and wise and not complaining ever since I was a younger age.

Repetition and then some

Hylands ability to knock down 3-pointers on a consistent basis has come from spending hours in the gym, working on his craft.

With the amount of time Hyland has dedicated to the sport, Mason equated basketball to being Hylands job.

Its all repetitions, Mason said. Its about being effective, about efficiency. So when he gets in a game, its like hes already been through it. It comes naturally.

Hylands mid-range shot was something Griffin focused on at St. Georges. He was able to work with Hyland on his jump shot and ball handling, and it surprised college coaches when they saw him play, Griffin said.

Hylands jump shot is on point, but this season hes been able to showcase his ability to get to the rim.

Opposing teams have tried to limit his opportunities to shoot open 3-pointers this season by face guarding, or playing tight on him at the arc.

Just staying aggressive and strong, and just mentally tougher than my opponent because I know hes gonna try to throw me off my game, Hyland said. So just try to stay locked in throughout the game plan.

Mason said Hyland is the type of player that requires a watchful eye from the opposing team.

You cant really leave him alone, and you got to play up on him, Mason said. If you play up on him, hes going right by you. So that definitely makes him a bigger threat than most.

Hyland, who isnt known for being the most physical player on the court, said size doesnt matter, but the drive to succeed does.

Im not the biggest, not the strongest, but I would say Im the most competitive guy who can step out there and compete on the floor, Hyland said. If your mind, your mentality is stronger, I feel as though you can go a long way as far as competing and out winning a guy.

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All the Ways Biden and Harris (and Their Families) Are Making Jewish History on Inauguration Day – Jewish Exponent01.20.21

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at an event to announce nominees for their science team in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 16, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

By Uriel Heilman

(JTA) When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office as U.S. president and vice president on Wednesday, they will be making history in all sorts of ways including Jewish history.

Some of the historical firsts are obvious: Biden will be the oldest person ever to occupy the White House, and Harris will be the first woman or person of color or person of South Asian descent ever to serve as vice president.

Their Jewish bona fides are also notable: Bidens three children who survived into adulthood all married Jews, making him a grandfather to several Jewish grandchildren. (Bidens first wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972.)

Harris husband, Doug Emhoff, is Jewish, and the couple celebrate Jewish holidays together. Their 2014 wedding featured the traditional Jewish breaking of the glass, and Emhoffs two children from his first marriage refer to Harris as Momala a mashup of Kamala and the Yiddishism mamaleh.

This past Hanukkah, Harris and Emhoff posted a video on Twitter of the couple lighting the menorah.

I love Hanukkah because it really is about the light, and bringing light where there has been darkness, Harris said, pronouncing Hanukkah with the guttural chet sound rather than the Americanized hey. And it is a celebration of, always, tikkun olam, which is about fighting for justice and fighting for the dignity of all people, and its about rededication.

The blended Jewish families that will lead the new U.S. administration are not an anomaly they are emblematic of the story of American Jewry.

Most American Jews marry outside the faith 58% according to the most recent national survey, conducted in 2013 by the Pew Research Center. However, rather than abandoning Judaism, these interfaith couples increasingly are raising their children as Jews, or celebrating Jewish traditions alongside those of other faiths. Some 45% of intermarried Jews are raising their children in the Jewish religion, according to Pew, up from 28% in 1990.

While half a century ago Jews who intermarried were looked upon as a loss for the Jewish community, today interfaith families are part and parcel of the American Jewish community. In the Reform movement, the largest U.S. Jewish religious denomination, rabbis officiate at interfaith weddings, many synagogues have non-Jews as members, and certain ritual roles during synagogue services are open to non-Jews.

The Reconstructionist movement, which is the smallest of Americas liberal Jewish denominations with about 100 affiliated synagogues, made history in 2015 when it dropped a ban against accepting intermarried students to the movements rabbinical school.

In the Conservative movement, more than one-quarter of all homes include a non-Jewish family member, according to the Pew survey. Even among many Orthodox Jews, it has become more common to take a welcoming approach toward interfaith couples in the hope that a non-Jewish spouse ultimately converts rather than to ostracize intermarried Jews.

By the same token, the prevailing attitudes of Americans generally toward Jews have warmed over time. In the 1950s and 60s, large swaths of Americans disdained Jews in one way or another: In 1958, only 62% of Americans said theyd be willing to vote for a well-qualified Jewish political candidate, compared to 91% in 2015, and a 1964 survey found that 43% of Americans held Jews responsible for the death of Jesus, compared to 26% in 2004.

While 2019 saw a 40-year high in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, its common for non-Jews with Jews in their families to express pride about their Jewish relatives. Biden, a Catholic, is one example.

Im the only Irish Catholic you know who had his dream met because his daughter married a Jewish surgeon, Biden quipped about his Jewish son-in-law, Howard Krein, at a political event in Ohio in 2016.

Krein, a doctor, married Bidens youngest daughter, Ashley Biden, in an interfaith ceremony in 2012 officiated by a Roman Catholic priest and a Reform rabbi, Joseph M. Forman.

A ketubah was signed. The couple got married under a beautiful huppah, made of natural branches with a cloth covering, Forman, rabbi at a New Jersey congregation, Or Chadash, told the Forward. The wedding ceremony started with the traditional baruch haba and included the priestly blessing and the sheva brachot. The groom stepped on a glass at the end.

At the reception, Biden danced the hora.

Bidens son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015, also married a Jew: Hallie Olivere, whose Jewish mother Biden had known since his own childhood. At a 2015 event in Delaware, Beau Biden joked that he had a crush on Olivere as a kid.

I was the Catholic kid. She was the Jewish girl. I still tried. I didnt get anywhere, Beau Biden said.

Bidens second son, Hunter, recently married for the second time this time to Melissa Cohen, a Jewish documentary filmmaker from South Africa. Within days of their meeting, Hunter Biden got a Shalom tattoo to match one that Cohen had. The couple had their first child, a son born in Los Angeles, last March. That brought the number of Biden grandchildren with a Jewish parent to three, adding to Beau and Hallies two children.

Biden is not the first U.S. president with a children married to a Jew that history belongs to Donald Trump, whose daughter Ivanka underwent conversion by an Orthodox rabbi before marrying her Jewish husband, Jared Kushner, in 2009. The couple are raising their three children as Jews, regularly observe Shabbat, attend Orthodox synagogues and send their kids to Jewish day school.

Chelsea Clinton, the only daughter of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, married a Jew, Marc Mezvinsky, in 2010, a decade after her father left office. Their interfaith ceremony was co-officiated by a rabbi and a minister and included a huppah and the recitation of the sheva brachot, the seven marriage blessings. The couple has three children.

Chelsea Clinton identifies as a Methodist but has become an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism. Responding two years ago to an online troll who wrote that she isnt even Jewish shes just ugly, Clinton responded: Hi Adam youre right, I am not Jewish. Since you find me ugly, feel free to never look at me. The ugly Jew is a vile centuries old anti-Semitic trope so next time, please just go straight to ugly and leave out the rest. Thank you.

After Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of three Muslims in Congress, claimed in February 2019 that AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, pays politicians to support Israel, Clinton tweeted: We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.

President Barack Obama does not have any Jewish family ties, but so many of his White House advisers and close associates were Jews that Obama ended up holding a private Seder every Passover during his eight years in the White House.

Then, of course, there were the near-misses: Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, would have been vice president had Al Gore, who won half a million more votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, held onto Florida in a disputed recount that ultimately awarded the presidency to Bush. John Kerry, who lost the presidential election to Bush in 2004, had grandparents on his fathers side who were born Jews but converted to Catholicism. Kerrys brother, Cameron Kerry, is a convert to Judaism.

When Harris is sworn in this week as vice president, it will mark the first time a Jew will live in one of the top two official U.S. residences: the U.S. Naval Observatory, official home of the vice president.

Theres another American Jewish storyline that Harris and Emhoff embody: the interracial couple. A growing number of American Jews are marrying outside their race including both whites and Jews of color, who comprise somewhere between 6% and 15% of American Jews.

Of course, with Harris poised to become Americas first-ever female vice president, most of the attention surrounding Emhoff wont be about his being Jewish, but his being Americas first-ever Second Gentleman the title he settled on as an alternative to the traditional designation, Second Lady.

Lior Zaltzman contributed to this report.

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Caught In The System – Delaware First Media12.12.20

I. Slauson and Crenshaw

Lisa P is from Crenshaw. She knows all its avenues, all its corners. She has it all mapped out in her head, what it means to move from one block to the next. She's 57 years old, and grew up running these streets. She was born Ellisa McKnight but prefers the nickname she's gone by since childhood.

Slauson Avenue runs east-west through Crenshaw. Driving toward the Pacific Ocean down Slauson, Lisa moves one of her box braids away from her face and hits her joint as she passes one of the neighborhood's unofficial landmarks, Slauson swap meet. Looking out her car window at the sign that reads Slauson Supermall, Lisa P says that it was on this very site that she first remembers seeing a boy who would grow up to be one of Crenshaw's most celebrated and most mourned sons.

"He stood right there, by that pole," she recalls. "Skinny, little scrawny kid selling incense."

The young salesman Lisa remembers spotting on this L.A. street corner was named Ermias Asghedom. A couple of decades later, he'd be known not just in Crenshaw but around the world as Nipsey Hussle, his new name glorifying the work ethic that earned him notice as a kid and acclaim and success as an artist and businessman as an adult. Throughout, he remained a fixture in the neighborhood. In fact, if you keep driving a mile and a half down Slauson, past neighborhood restaurants and fast food joints, salons and dollar stores and churches and mosques, you'll arrive at a strip mall on the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard that's the home of The Marathon Clothing Store, where Nipsey would stake his claim, where he'd do everything he could to change Crenshaw for the better and where, on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot of the store he owned, he'd be shot and killed.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nipsey Hussle was the epitome of a hustler. Like Lisa P and many of the other young people who grow up in this neighborhood, he was a member of the Rollin 60s Crips, one of L.A.'s biggest sets, from the time he was a teenager. He never denied being affiliated. Once his music took off, he repped his set in every song. But he was also a community advocate for Crenshaw, and constantly gave back to his hood.

"He never lived up to ... society's expectations of what he should be," says Karen Civil, one of Nipsey's business partners. "Society's expectation is, 'Oh, he's just a quote-unquote gang banger from the Crenshaw district.' Not at all. He's an entrepreneur. He's a Grammy award winner. He's a father. He's everything in between and he exceeded the expectations of what society thought."

The story of Nipsey Hussle's life has been retold into mythology, a hip-hop fairy tale, one that reinforces the illusion of the American dream: a self-made man who came up from the bottom, stayed connected with his community and used his art as a vehicle to change it. But the irony of his untimely death sheds light on the larger backdrop of inequality in his hood the phenomenon of mass supervision in Black communities.

"If you wrote a story like this, it would seem too on the nose," says Jeff Weiss, a writer and cultural critic from L.A. "It would seem too perfectly scripted to create the saddest possible tragedy it's like, Shakespearean."

Before he was Nipsey, Ermias Asghedom grew up the son of an immigrant in a family that couldn't even afford back-to-school clothes. He didn't see many options to support himself or his family, and around the age of 14, he joined the Rollin 60s.

In a 2018 interview with Hot 97, he talked about how being in the gang changed his life. "I adapted to the culture ... Naturally, that's not who I am," he said. "As kids we come from nurturing, but there's a lack of that in the coldness you get from going outside. The world said we was wrong, but the set embraced you for who you was. And that's the allure of gang banging."

Being in the set gave him a brotherhood, afforded him protection. He wore his pride in his colors and his "Slauson Boy" tattoos, which also made him a mark for police surveillance. In the early 2000s, the LAPD was still cracking down hard on gang violence. In an interview with NPR the year before he died, Nipsey described the reality he faced growing up in Crenshaw.

"If you check the stats the murder rates in the years I was a teenager and the incarceration rates in L.A. in my section of the Crenshaw district, of the Rollin 60s when I was 14, 15 none of my peers survived. None of my peers avoided prison. None of 'em," he said.

Then his world broadened. In 2004, after spending his entire life in South Central, Nipsey traveled to his father's homeland, Eritrea, with his dad and his brother. Over a visit that lasted a few months, he saw a whole country of people who looked like him living autonomously, taking pride in their country. It lit a fire under him to build community like that back at home.

"I was 19 when I came back, so I was still knee-deep in what was going on in L.A.," he said on Hot 97. But something in him had changed. "You know, you got those two voices. This one became a lot louder because I couldn't fake like I wasn't exposed to the way things could be. And you know, I think it led to me making decisions that brought me into music."

The music he made showed you the world he knew, with shout-outs to OGs and local stomping grounds. He was honest about experiences in his hood. "I wasn't always banging but I speak about it openly," he rapped in 2013. "No shame in my game. I did my thing on the coldest streets."

His music won fans among peers and critics. "He had kind of the laid-back stoner cool of a Snoop, but had more of the mission and ethos of like, a Tupac," Weiss says.

Aside from the bars, Nipsey followed his own entrepreneurial drive to sell what made him unique in rap. He created a recording label called All Money In and in 2013 got attention from the whole music industry for his creative approach to marketing when he sold 1,000 copies of his mixtape Crenshaw for $100 a pop. Jay Z bought 100 copies himself.

"Like, so many of us are way more than what we look like," says songwriter James Fauntleroy, who worked with Nipsey throughout his career and appears on Crenshaw. "Every now and then you find somebody that, in a good way, is so out of character that they're a more interesting character in the play of life."

"I say there's weather changers and weather reporters," says Larrance Dopson, Fautelroy's collaborator and one of Nipsey's longtime producers. "Nipsey and a few of us, we're weather changers."

In 2018, he finally dropped an official debut album, Victory Lap, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be nominated for a best rap album Grammy.

All the while, he was working on other ventures. In 2017, he and his brother, Blacc Sam, opened an L.A. storefront to sell their merch and spread their ethos. They called it The Marathon Clothing Store, and it wasn't on Fairfax or Melrose, far removed from the streets that gave Nipsey his grind. It was right the heart of the hood that made him. The store was part of his focus on Black ownership, and entrepreneurial strategy to "buy back the block."

At Marathon, Nipsey hired parolees to sweep up or even work the register. He wanted to give people opportunities he never had as a kid, opportunities that have never really existed for people in Crenshaw. He was known to donate clothing to people in the neighborhood who needed it, especially OGs coming home after doing time.

***

That commitment to his hood led Nipsey to do something unexpected: He wrote a letter to the LAPD. It read, in part:

"Our goal is to work with the department to help improve communication, relationships and work towards changing the culture and dialogue between LAPD and the inner city. We want to hear about your new programs and your goals for the department as well as how we can help stop gang violence and help you help kids."

In Crenshaw, cops were the opposition, and people who talked to cops were even worse: snitches. Being a snitch meant you were a threat in the hood.

At least one person in the LAPD wanted to make a connection. Steve Soboroff was, at that time, the president of the LAPD's Board of Police Commissioners, a group of civilians that lead the department by setting policy and playing liaison between the public and the police (Soboroff is still on the board, but no longer president). When he got Nipsey's email, he was impressed, and went to work setting up a meeting between Nipsey and his management team at Roc Nation and Michel Moore, the chief of police.

"I thought it was an opportunity to let him know what we do, and for him to let us know what his ideas were," Soboroff says. "And so, 'Tell me about the culture and dialogue from the perspective of people that come into your store.' "

But then, a standstill. Though Soboroff tried to get time on the books for a sit down, he says some members of the department wanted to look into Nipsey's background, specifically related to his gang affiliations.

"That's why the meeting didn't happen two months earlier," Soboroff says. "The department was a little bit reluctant. ... It's hard to get off a gang database, and when people can't get off a gang database when they're no longer gang members and they've paid their dues, it can affect their future."

Finally, though, Soboroff and Roc Nation managed to schedule a meeting between Nipsey and Moore for the afternoon of Monday, April 1, 2019.

But that meeting never happened. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, Nipsey was in the parking lot outside Marathon Clothing, as he was most Sundays. He had a small crowd around him, some taking selfies, some chopping it up.

Not all of the conversations he had that day were so casual. Later, two eyewitnesses testified in a grand jury hearing that they heard Nipsey and another man, a Rollin 60s Crip named Eric Holder Jr., talking about the dangers of cooperating with police. Nipsey warned Eric that there were rumors about police having paperwork on him, that the streets might see him as a snitch. Eric tried to brush it off. The conversation was tense, but cordial. The men dapped, and Eric left to get some food.

A few minutes later, another man named Kerry Lathan, who had until recently been in jail, and who had been the recipient of Nipsey and Marathon's generosity, pulled up to say hello, to thank Nipsey for the help he'd given him and to pitch him some designs for a T-shirt he'd sketched.

Then shots broke out. According to videotaped evidence and eyewitness accounts, Eric Holder walked back up to Nipsey with a gun in each hand, and started firing.

Kerry was hit in the spine, and fell to the ground. He couldn't see anything except the feet of people all around him, until he saw Nipsey fall to the ground beside him. Surveillance footage captured the shooter unloading nearly a dozen bullets into Nipsey before running to a nearby car. Nipsey and Kerry were rushed to the hospital, and at 3:55 p.m. on March 31, 2019, Nipsey was pronounced dead.

A few days later, Holder was arrested and later charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty, but his trial has been delayed multiple times.

In January of 2020, Kerry Lathan was sitting in a wheelchair under the shade of a small gazebo in the courtyard of a Long Beach rehabilitation center. He had on a navy sweatsuit and his gray goatee has been freshly shaped up. Kerry had been in the rehab center for a month, recovering from a right brain stroke.

On this day, as with many others, Kerry is here with Lisa P, who he calls his sister, though the two of them aren't related. Lisa, dressed in a maroon sweat suit, glitter lash extension and her red box braids up in a bun, helps Kerry eat and wheels him around they're about the same age, but she treats him protectively, very much like a baby brother.

Kerry and Lisa have been like siblings since they were kids, and they've seen gang life in Crenshaw change over generations. They got down with the Rollin 60s when the set first started in the 1970s, and Lisa says that at the time, it was more like a youth club, a family formed to escape the ones they had at home who were neglecting or sometimes abusing them.

Lisa has great memories of those early days with her friends. She remembers sneaking out at night with a group, gathering up pillows and blankets and hopping the fence into the 59th Street Schoolyard, where they'd push benches together and make one big bed to have a sleepover under the stars. Instead of s'mores, they'd split a chicken dinner between them.

Accounts of the formation of the Crips echo that all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. The gang emerged in the void left behind as Black liberation groups like the Black Panthers were being dismantled. Lisa P even claims that Crip is an acronym for "Community Revolution in Progress."

Soon subsets like the Rollin 60s formed under the Crips' umbrella. Some sets broke off entirely, forming new gangs with new territories, colors and codes. Desperate conditions in their neighborhoods intensified over the years. When crack started flooding in, gangs went into business selling it. Beefs started over sales territory and many of those rivalries got set in stone.

By 1985, South Central L.A. was a hotspot of the crack epidemic in America and violent crime in the city kept rising for almost another decade. As it did, the LAPD's CRASH Units were smashing into homes, yoking up whoever and arresting men en masse. Incarceration rates were skyrocketing, and the hip-hop of the era, by artists like Ice-T and N.W.A., was steeped in the reality that Lisa and Kerry were living through, painting vivid pictures of harassment by police.

"Why are they saying 'F*** the police,' though?" Lisa says. "Because we could be sitting in front of a store minding our own damn business and they're trained to come and antagonize us. That's why we say 'F*** the police.' "

Musicians like NWA spoke to everything Lisa was seeing around her, and gave her pain a new vocabulary. But most people coming up in chaos like that, she says, aren't given the chance to nurture their talent.

"A lot of people aren't able to understand their purpose in my neighborhood because they're trying to survive," Lisa says. " 'I need milk. I need bread. Damn it, I just got a gas bill. Oh my god, my lights is off.... How am I going to even think of anything else? I have no room in my mind to think of nothing else because I'm so busy trying to survive.' "

By the 1980s, Kerry was married and had started his family. He was trying to hold down various jobs, but he was already on the police's radar, having been in and out of jail for robbery and battery. It made it hard to even get interviews. Selling drugs presented fewer hurdles and higher rewards.

"You know, when you would leave broke and come back with 10 or 20 thousand dollars in your hand, that became habit forming," he says. Soon he was dealing full time. But Kerry developed a reputation for giving people who were short money they owed him a break, and that became a liability.

In 1994, Kerry was suspicious that one of his customers had been cheating him: paying him for crack rock, then breaking off a piece of it with her fingernail and then complaining that what he sold her was too small and demanding a refund. Once she even called the cops on him.

Eventually she tried this in front of other dealers and customers, and the two got into an argument that got physical.

"They put their hands on me," Kerry says, "and hit me on the back of the head, and that set the alarm off." While two other dealers held the woman down, Kerry stabbed her in the back, then ran away and left the woman to die alone in the street.

He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

***

In early 2018, while Nipsey Hussle's Victory Lap was topping the charts, Kerry was anxiously awaiting the results of a parole hearing. While in prison, he had become a model for rehabilitation. He underwent anger management, drug treatment programs and most importantly according to transcripts from his hearing victim's awareness training, which gave him insight into the impact of his crime. He also got his education in prison: certificates in mechanical drawing, cabinetry and drywall.

But still, he had reason to be nervous. His appeal for early parole had been denied once before. As he waited in the hallway while the parole board made their deliberations, he tried to comfort some of the other inmates up for parole, to ease his own nerves.

"Looking down the hallway and looking at people who just came out of the room that I was in, crying, and I say, 'Look man, come here, you don't have to cry. All you have to do is understand yourself. Go deep. Find your freedom. Because it's not in here,' " Kerry recalls.

This time the parole judges decided Kerry had earned his freedom, and in September 2018 he was finally released. At that moment, he became one of 4.5 million people on probation or parole in the United States twice the number of people currently incarcerated. About a third of those people on probation or parole are Black.

Life on parole in California comes with a lot of rules: Your residence can be searched at any time. You can't use a knife with a blade longer than two inches unless you're in a kitchen. You can't travel more than 50 miles without first notifying your parole officer. Kerry says he wasn't even allowed to go into corner stores that sell liquor. "Everything ... right is wrong. That's how clearly you could say it."

Kerry also had to agree to be entered into a gang database, so he had to observe "no go zones" places he could and couldn't go at different times of the day and rules about who he was allowed to be with. That meant that technically, Kerry couldn't be around Lisa, or at least two of his children.

"His daughter is in prison," Lisa says. "So when she comes home, she's a parolee. He's a parolee. How are they going to see each other? 'Cause they both of them in violation. ... Nine times out of 10, either you got a criminal record or somebody that you know has a criminal record."

Kerry was out, but with so many rules and such heavy consequences for breaking them, he felt like he was walking on eggshells. One in five people entering prison in the U.S. today is there for a parole violation.

Kerry and Lisa felt that they couldn't rely on the parole system. But Lisa knew of someone they could look to for help. And she says that despite never having met her or Kerry, Nipsey Hussle didn't hesitate to help Kerry when she reached out.

"They gave him hoodies. They gave him shirts, socks, tees, underwear, everything somebody getting out of prison might need," she says.

Here you have two men: Kerry, who had caused harm long ago and spent two decades wrestling with remorse, trying to make good and change his life. And Nipsey, who turned neighborhood-wide trauma into music, and that music into opportunities for his hood. Those paths both led to the parking lot in front of Marathon Clothing on March 31, 2019, where one of them ended.

Before Nipsey was born, before Kerry joined the Rollin 60s, law enforcement was figuring out a way to track people all over California.

Wes McBride is a former sergeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He's retired now, but back in the 1970s he patrolled East L.A., home to a large part of the city's Hispanic population and gangs like the Marianna and the Juarez. McBride says that every time they approached someone they thought might be a gang member, officers would fill out something they called a "field interview report."

"You use it any time you stop somebody and he's up to no good, but you can't prove anything," McBride says. So officers would take down suspected gang members' names and descriptions of their vehicles, for potential use in relation to future investigations.

In the late 1970s, McBride helped to create a gang database to standardize about a dozen criteria from these field interview reports, things like location, affiliates, tattoos, even dress. If a person met just two of the criteria, they went in the database, even if they hadn't committed a crime. That database would come to be known as CalGang.

Today, McBride insists the system does not amount to racial profiling, even though police are designating individuals for inclusion in CalGang based on preconceived notions.

"I worked East L.A. Ninety-nine percent of everybody in East L.A. is Hispanic. Uh, we didn't have any other races to pick on, you know, to stop," he says. "And the same you go down to South L.A. it's all Black population. I don't make you a gang member. You make yourself a gang member with your attitude, your dress and your actions. If you want to be a gang member, you're a gang member."

Nipsey had firsthand experience with this kind of profiling. In a 2013 interview he told Combat Jack that police would "come through and get to know you. ... They'd come hop out, ask you questions, take your name, your address, your cell phone number, your social, when you ain't done nothing. Just so they know everybody in the hood."

By 2018, there were more than 100,000 people catalogued in CalGang's database. It's become standardized, used by law enforcement across the state, even federal departments. But in 2016, an audit of the database confirmed a slew of problems. People had been entered into the system without a reason. Babies under the age of one were included because of "admitting to being gang members."

There's a state law that requires anyone who has gone five years without adding anything to their record be removed from CalGang, but the audit also showed that for hundreds of people, that had not happened.

Sean Garcia-Leys, a former senior staff attorney at the Urban Peace Institute, has represented dozens of people who say CalGang infringed upon their civil liberties.

"Almost all of my clients, even the ones who are gang involved, should have been purged but for a traffic stop at some point where they were pulled over for running a stoplight or something like that, and the officer noticed that they had a tattoo even if it's a 20-year-old tattoo and that stop was then used to restart their five-year purge date," he says.

Garcia-Leys says Nipsey satisfied a lot of the criteria that could land somebody in CalGang, from his tattoos to law enforcement's suspicion that Marathon Clothing was a front for gang activity. Hypothetically, every time he went there, he could have his five-year clock restarted. But because until recently CalGang was a confidential database, there was no way to know if his name has been purged or not, or if you were ever in to begin with. All public information requests we made to the LAPD to find out whether Nipsey was in CalGang were denied.

***

About a week after the shooting, Kerry Lathan was released from the hospital, and he moved into a halfway house for parolees. Still recovering, he was wheelchair bound and in a lot of pain when parole officers showed up not to see how Kerry's doing or to offer support or help, but to arrest him for violating his parole.

"They said 'Gang affiliation,' and I took out the newspaper. It said, 'Nipsey Hussle: A Voice of Peace,' and I said, 'So, y'all [gonna] send me back to prison for talking to a voice of peace? Y'all crazy,' " Kerry says.

Months later, Kerry still didn't understand exactly what happened. So we asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the agency that oversees his parole, what rule Kerry broke. Via email, a spokesperson declined to answer, citing privacy concerns. But they said they could confirm one thing: The violation was "unrelated to the Nipsey Hussle incident."

We now know that this was a lie.

According to Kerry's parole violation report, which was obtained by NPR, parole officers interviewed Kerry at least two times while he was in the hospital, both by phone and in person. Officers cited several ways Kerry violated his parole, all stemming from the "incident in connection with the shooting death of Rapper Nipsey Hussle."

In making their case that Kerry should be arrested, the officers noted that Kerry had admitted to associating with Nipsey Hussle in those minutes before the shooting. Parole officers cited departmental resources used to confirm "that Nipsey Hussle is a documented Rollin 60s Crip gang member." According to the report the officers searched Kerry's phone and found a photo of Kerry at a strip club with two other men that officers say are "flashing" gang signs.

We asked Bruce Western, the co-director of Columbia University's Justice Lab, to read Kerry's violation report. Western studies the sociological impact of life lived on parole, and he pointed out that a group of 50-year-old men displaying gang signs might not currently be involved in criminal activity.

"It's very subjective to make that leap," he says.

In 2017, more than a third of parolees locked up in California were there because of a technical parole violation, not for committing a crime. Western says that can make people feel like they've been set up to fail.

"The person on parole only has limited control over whether or not they are going to come back into contact with the system," Western says. "If they live in a heavily policed community, the likelihood is that they will come back into contact. The system, in many cases, wants to have contact with you."

The officers took Kerry back to jail, but after media attention on his case and a petition with 20,000 signatures, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reversed his parole violation. After spending 12 days locked up, Kerry was released.

But here's what's scary to think about: If Kerry's violation had occurred because he'd been talking to any other alleged gang member besides Nipsey Hussle, he'd likely still be in jail.

Recently, there has been some effort to reform the system. In the last year, multiple LAPD officers have been criminally charged for inputting false information into CalGang, and the LAPD finally conducted an internal investigation that led, this summer, to police chief Michel Moore declaring that the department would quit using the database permanently. None of the data that the LAPD has entered into CalGang can be used by any other law enforcement agency ever again. But other law enforcement agencies in California can still access and update the database themselves.

Both Kerry and Nipsey were trying to work within the system, trying to play by its rules to improve themselves and their hood. Nipsey reached out to the cops, who delayed their meeting because they saw him as a gang member. Kerry reached out to Nipsey for help and it landed him back in jail. The way the system works, it's almost like it wants to make sure people like Nipsey and Kerry aren't working to help each other.

***

Nipsey Hussle's mantra was "The Marathon Continues," and depending on where you sit, that never-ending pursuit of a dream can be inspiring or exhausting.

December 19 will mark Kerry's one-year anniversary in his Long Beach rehabilitation center. He's got a piece of a bullet lodged in his back. He is coping with the effects of his stroke and still cannot walk. He told us he got COVID-19 earlier this year and is recovering. He says that when he finally gets out, he wants to find residence in public housing where his daughter and grandchildren can visit him. He will live the rest of his life under the strict regulations of a parolee.

Lisa P is a registered paralegal, and is writing a book about the history of the Rollin 60s called Orphans of the Revolution, Story of a Rollin Sixlett. She says she has found a publisher and is working to release it in 2021.

"I just want to see something different before I leave here. I don't have a lot of time ... and I just really want to see a change in my community," she says. "I can make it that."

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Caught In The System - Delaware First Media

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Still Bad to the Bone | SPIN – SPIN12.08.20

George Thorogood has made a living performing other musicians songs. Hes performed them so damn well we all think hes the original artist. His self-described journey of starting from the bottom and clawing to the middle began once he got the heck out of Delaware. As he sang in Bottom of the Sea, Thorogood has been all around the world. He traveled cross-country for a shot at being in John Lee Hookers band becoming a street performer along the way. He lived in Boston. Has been performing in New Zealand and Australia and Europe for decades. He currently lives in Southern California.

Covering and mastering such songs as Bo Diddleys Who Do You Love and John Lee Hookers version of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (which was originally written by Rudy Toombs in 1953 and initially performed by Amos Milburn), Thorogood makes no bones about where he stands when asked about why he didnt write his own songs: Im not a songwriter. And why blues songs? My talent is pretty limited. I dont really have the chops of Linda Ronstadt who can sing anything or a guitarist like Jeff Beck who can play anything. But the fans dont care. They just want to hear George masterfully play these blues songs, leaving them, as Chuck Berry first sang in 1957 and then Thorogood in 1986, reelin and rockin.

In 2021, which is the 40th anniversary of his 50/50 Tour, where George Thorogood and the Destroyers performed 51 shows in 50 days, (yes, the numbers dont add up, but hell explain), George and his band return to the stage for a 29-city North American and European tour. (This December, hes also re-releasing the 27-track Live In Boston 1982: The Complete Concert.) Thorogood, 70, says hell be playing the same songs and is aware plans may change amid the pandemic.

We might have to work smaller venues, but once the world is healthy, I think itll be an incredible reaction. Have you ever played in Minnesota or Wisconsin [note: hes actually not this time around] in late May? Its fantastic! Why? Everyones been cooked up in the house all winter. I think once you get out there, the reaction is gonna be extreme in a good way.

Thats George for ya! The fans go crazy even in cities hes not performing in.

What was it like growing up in Delaware?It was like eating Wonder Bread with mayonnaise on it. Its not Greenwich Village. Its not Hollywood. Its not San Francisco. Its kind of a non. It got on Candid Camera. Remember Candid Camera? The show had a hoax where they bribed Pennsylvanians to say, Delaware is closed today. My father went, Delaware is always closed!

You also lived in Boston and currently in Southern California. How do the two cities compare?There is no Boston, just like there is no LA. Boston is about two streets its basically where Fenway Park is and thats about it. LA is full of places, like the Valley. Its really spread out. Living all these years I try to find where is this, and no, youre in Hollywood now. And then youre in West Hollywood. Now youre in Sherman Oaks. Now youre in Westwood. Now youre in Brentwood. See? Where is LA? Thats how it was in Boston. New York City: you know youre in New York City.

2021 is the 40th anniversary of your 50/50 tour. What stands out the most and can it be pulled off today?Its only 50 days, not 250. Lou Gehrig played 2,130 games in a row. The states on the East Coast are not as spread out, unlike going from Montana to Nebraska to Minnesota, so, that wasnt that tough. To make it 51 shows, we did Baltimore in the afternoon and D.C. at night. (See, told you hed explain.) Now if you cant get it up for playing rock and roll every night, then youre in the wrong business.

The one thing that does stick out is the 44th date. We played in Arkansas in this place called The Library. It seated about 100 people, maybe 120, and they called it The Library because it was filled with books. I think it used to be a library and was converted into a nightclub. The next night we played in New Orleans at the Superdome to 15, 20 thousand people and we had to go on after the Neville Brothers, before the Rolling Stones. Plus, I had a temperature of about 110. I had a cold the whole time I was on the 50/50 tour. My head was so clogged up that I couldnt hear anything. I couldnt see anything cause they had airplane lights banging down on the stage. It was tough, I had to get through it. And that was the first night Mick Jagger came out to see us play. I was like, No not now! Im terrible. This isnt working!

What was Micks reaction to your show?I dont know! I didnt ask him. But they said he was dancing as he was watching. He was moving around, getting into it. We played a bunch of dates with them down the road.

What were the Rolling Stones like?They were more than friendly, very accommodating. Its funny: those people, they have an image. I did a lot of shows with them in Europe and in the States. I never once hear any of the Rolling Stones utter a four-letter word. I saw no drugs, no marijuana, no nothing, all of them had great manners and theyre all pulling for us. They really wanted us to do good. Some of the Stones said, lets go out and see what these guys from Delaware are all about. When I was around the Rolling Stones, I felt like I had walked into a Boy Scout camp. I hate to blow it for them, but that was my experience.

How do you keep up with the music industry these days?Well, its hard to keep up with it anymore. Theres billions and billions of people and bands. Its not like 1968 or even 1978 where a new album came out and it was a big buzz. Now, theyre releasing like a thousand albums a week, of all different kinds of artists. It takes me a while to catch up, so everyone who was big five, six, seven years ago, Im just now starting to catch up. Im a classic rock guy. I listen to new stuff and go right back to Steve Miller. Like we all do.

What music do you listen to today?I just started listening to that lady from England with all those tattoos; she passed away recently.

Amy Winehouse?Yeah, unbelievable. I couldnt even put my finger on what it was like. It was like the first time I heard Robert Johnson. Ive never heard anything like this. Now I know what the whole fuss is about with this person. I first heard Amy Winehouses music in an assembly at my daughters high school and I heard this one song come on and I said, What is that sound? What is that music? So, they told me who it was and was like I gotta get into this.

Do you believe in the myth about Robert Johnson selling his soul at the Crossroads?Why not! Over the last 10, 15, 20 years a couple of pictures that they say is Robert Johnson were produced. They say this is him. And Im saying, Well, who verified this? Someone who didnt really know the man. Now, I have spent time with Robert Lockwood Jr. who was supposed to be the adopted son of Robert Johnson he was buddies with Lockwoods mom and taught him how to play the guitar. So, at that time a picture existed. And a police sketch artist went to Lockwood to say lets do it, and Lockwood wouldnt do it. And they said, why? and Lockwood goes, I dont want to.

And now a book is out about him. A very close friend of mine gave me the book and I said I dont want to read it eventually Ill crack it and investigate, maybe Ill pick it up in 10, 15 years. I like the idea that Robert is a mystery. Thats part of the charm. Some people even said that they didnt even prove he really was dead. So, he sold his soul to the devil. Hey, if someone comes up with an offer for me to be able to play like that, Id be tempted to take it.

CREDIT: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Why do you cover other peoples music versus writing original songs?You cant go anywhere unless you write originals. People told me that so much I almost was gonna puke. Well, Linda Ronstadt and Joe Cocker do covers. The Stones are the same way on their first two or three records. Frank Sinatra didnt write any of his material. Neither did Elvis Presley. I said that I could put together a record of no originals at all and I can make that album a hit. And that album was Moving on Over and it went gold. So, as long as the songs are good, people dont care who wrote it. I mean, do you know the person who wrote the covers on Rolling Stones albums? No, you just like the song. So, yeah, we proved that dead in the water. I think what they meant was to really get critical acclaim, you gotta write your own stuff. Well, of course you do! But you gotta write good stuff.

What was it like to be a street performer in San Francisco?It was terrible! Its better to play at MSG with The Stones. It wasnt out of choice, it was out of necessity. I was starving, I had no money, I had no skills or trade. I had a guitar. I did just enough to get something to eat maybe every two days or once a day. I wanted to be like Peter Wolf or John Hammond or Hound Dog Taylor I wanted to get it on like that but no record producers were walking up and down the street listening to me.

It was 1973. I was on my way to California because I wanted to meet John Lee Hooker and see if I could get a job playing in his band. Along the way, I got sidetracked and did a few gigs in Omaha and Denver. When I finally ended up in San Francisco, I visited Hooker. He was very nice to me, but I didnt have it in me to say I want to be in your band and play guitar with you. I just had to take what I could get. That was my start.

Do you regret not asking to be in his band?I was flabbergasted! He is so nice and very coooool. I cant even explain it. He was the guru of the blues, this monster of the blues. I didnt have it in me. We became friends years later and I spent a lot of time with him and did a video together, traveled with him, did benefits with him, but never got around to being in his band.

How did you come up with the name for your band?I got this guy on the phone who ran a topless club and I thought maybe we could get a job and as luck will have it, he said we have a cancelation can you play tomorrow night. I said of course so he said, whats the name of your band? and I remember there was a guy who played with Howlin Wolf who never spoke up, no one knew who he was so they called him The Destroyer. We bounced that name off each other. So, when the guy asked whats the name of your band, I went, uhhhh, The Destroyers. He went, any good? I said, were great! Then the name stuck. We did a gig up in Boston one night and somebody said George Washington and the Delaware River. Its nothing like ZZ Top or The Who. Police is a great name for a band because there are police all over the world. Its great for merchandise. Destroyer looks good as a tattoo on a sailors chest.

CREDIT: Rocky Widner/FilmMagic

Why do you perform so many songs about drinking?Theyre popular. Lets make the record straight here: weve recorded 150 songs, three of them are about drinking, but only two of them I wrote, so when they say all your songs are about drinking, or most of them, no, its the ones played on the radio. The reason we do them is because the fans select it. I mean we play in a bar every night. They were hits before we did them. I heard Sonny Terry and Brian McGee doing it, and John Lee Hooker doing it. I said, this is a popular song and we can make a rock hit out of this. If J. Geils got a hold of it, theyd do the same thing. Popularity is what did it. We made our statement. Were done with it. The world doesnt need another drinking song.

Which version of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer do you like the best?I heard John Lee Hooker doing it live at the Cafe Au Go-Go. He did two sets. Each set he did One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. Back in those days, the heyday of the blues, everybody sat, it was quiet, like in a temple listening to Muddy Waters. When John Lee Hooker played everybody was dancing. I said, dancing to the blues? This is not done! It was so revered. The one they danced to the most was One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer and it was all women. I said, thats it! Im getting a band together and performing that song.

Whats your favorite bourbon, scotch and beer?My slogan is one bourbon, no scotch and one beer.

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Still Bad to the Bone | SPIN - SPIN

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