By Donald Lyons
From J. Edgar Hoover to Fred Hampton to COINTELPRO to Nipsey Hussle, here is why we should consider conspiracy theories.
(AllHipHop Opinion) Who was Nipsey Hussle? At a cursory glance he was a Black Man. That fact right there is enough to fuel questions regarding his passing in my opinion. History has more than provided examples that won’t let me rule out foul play when race, gender and capitalism can very well be the catalysts in determining the probability of a long life or a truncated one in America.
Nipsey Hussle wasn’t just a rapper, was he? He wasn’t just a gangbanger, was he? Sadly, his tragically too short life will never allow us to witness who he was becoming or who he was yet become. What we know definitively is that his evolution served to inspire many and, in the wake of his murder, it looks like many fans and mourners alike can’t come to an accord on how to view his death and the circumstances surrounding it. I, for one, cannot bring myself to reconcile that it is simply a senseless murder and it should be alright for me to think that way. The tragedy also lies with the triteness of his death with which many relegate it to cliché and expected given his past and gang affiliation. This is where I think we should all take a step back and take the time to consider all the information surrounding his death, as it comes, with a mind open to the possibility that his death is ultimately serving some sinister purpose. We all can agree that this is a tragedy. What we all cannot seem to agree upon is that Nipsey’s murder is somehow unrelated to the disposition of South Los Angeles in his devastating absence.
By definition, a conspiracy is simply a group of people that plan to do something unlawful or something that causes harm. What I think are clearly two points of contention for folks is, for one; establishing motive to justify the possibility of a conspiracy and reconciling the actual mechanics of the alleged acts to conspire when considering the formal definition of a conspiracy plot.
To clarify both above points; there are plenty of motives to consider when you properly assess the worth of Nipsey’s life. We must take into account the resources and inspirational work he was bringing to bear in his community. This is especially true when you consider the historical violence of capitalism and its typical and long standing effects on and within the Black community. In addressing the other point as to the mechanics of conspiracy; there are plenty of historic examples that support groups conspiring in the past to bring harm and subvert the law in that regard. It is wholly possible that the vehicles of conspiracy may be comprised of multiple spheres of influence and tiered levels of intimacy. In short, picture concentric circles representing very specific groups of people where there may be information and motives held separate from adjacent layers. The smallest circle, or the one innermost, serves to represent the prime conspirators with knowledge of the endgame. These are the folks who set the acts in motion to destabilize, destroy and/or acquire. It is possible to have many moving parts with varied interests within it. There may also be some agents or assets outside of the inner circle that are deemed, of limited use or outright, “expendable” on route to achieving the end goal. These can be said to be operating as agents for those of the inner circle on a, “need to know” basis.
"Coincidentally, Fred Hampton’s efforts then with the Black Panthers mirrors the efforts of Nipsey in that he had traction in and the respect of the community, it’s leaders and its gangs. "
Please understand that it is wholly possible that Nipsey’s murder was an individual, senseless act which has not been ruled out at all. However, when it comes to the destruction of Black minds, Blacks bodies and Black prosperity (of all people of color for that matter); I don’t EVER count the deaths of ANY community leaders/movers as improbable regarding tactical elimination or conspiratorial work. History has shown us repeatedly that given enough time that the truth will come out.
Take as an analogy, the murder of Fred Hampton. Fred Hampton was a charismatic activist and a revolutionary whose brilliance caused him to rise quickly in the ranks of the Black Panther Party. Coincidentally, Hampton’s efforts then with the Black Panthers mirrors the efforts of Nipsey in that he had traction in and the respect of the community, it’s leaders and its gangs. Fred was using his influence to broker peace, inspire respect and organize a self-sufficient community moving toward collective prosperity, lawful co-existence and enlightenment.
In hindsight, we have come to know that the Black Panther Party was under surveillance and had been targeted by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO (the COunter INTELligence PROgram). Tragically, Fred Hampton’s life was cut short during an FBI raid under the premise of searching for and seizing any illegal weapons. At the time of his death in 1969, his death was ruled a, “justifiable homicide”. What brought attention to this incident was a healthy and maintained degree of skepticism by the Panther Party and the public at large that sought justice for Fred and his family. It was ultimately proved that the suspicious nature and circumstances behind the raid and resultant deaths would unravel when held up to the standard of competent questioning. The truth can always withstand questioning. Lies are proven not to yield definitive answers.
Long story short, the machinations of a corrupt and illegal intelligence/counterintelligence agency had been exposed. (This satisfies the categorization of a group with a plan.) The operatives also had a plant within Hampton’s organization that provided logistics, and access to those who would do Hampton and the Black Panthers harm. (This satisfies the above assertion that not all those acting within a conspired plot must fully be, “in the know”, or agree with the desired result of those primary conspirators.)
William O’Neal was someone who was regarded as a friend and confidant of Hampton. Someone who had been charged with endearing himself to him. This is someone who had been coerced and accepted consideration to betray Hampton, his family, and his associates. This is someone who traded Hampton’s life for his own lighter sentence in answering for his own crimes. This is someone who had been co-opted for carrying out a function in said conspiracy, and was found dead subsequently and ironically under suspicious circumstances. Clearly, he was expendable. I hope whoever is reading this can draw the analogy I’m steering toward. Betrayal, infiltration and counterintelligence has/does exist. It is not a new concept.
"What harm is it to ask? That GQ spread. Those properties he bought. Those kids he helped. That empowerment he inspired. The leverage he sought. Those ideas he had. That fearless willingness to sit down and break bread with, “powerful enemies”. Seriously, what harm is it to ask?"
I woke up a few days ago to a massive wave of opposing sentiment via social media. The demonstration of the typical lines of demarcation always boils down to the pro vs. the con argument. In regarding Nipsey’s death, we’re talking about conspiracy versus “dead nigger narrative.” I’m watching this unfold and it’s shameful.
To be clear, when I say, “dead nigger narrative”, I’m not saying this as a disrespect to Nipsey or his posthumous legacy. I’m using the expression to highlight just how easily his worth is being devalued by simply accepting a spoon fed, cut and dry rationalization of his murder. I’m also saying it to highlight how reductive it would be and how dismissive it is to associate his death as the result of some random act with all the news and new details surfacing each day. It is imperative that we understand this man was important! It is important that we understand that his murder underscores a prevailing theme of coincidence and convenience offered as “dead nigger narrative” when considering the value Black lives… ANY Black lives. As this murder is being investigated and discussed there are some very grand attempts by some to categorize this simply as yet another, “crabs in a barrel” eventuality, or an otherwise jealous and passionate response to being disregarded by someone who was once a peer.
Another more popular and frightening characterization of this tragedy is that Nipsey was simply murdered dispassionately, mentally unstable killer; that Nipsey was caught slipping. The fact that even Black folk would use this to depreciate and characterize our own people and assert that, “…Nipsey should have known better..” or, “…this is why we can’t have nice things…” is shameful!
I don’t understand the apparent need for a contingent of Black folk to be so hellbent in shaming and belittling others for merely theorizing about conspiracy or foul play. It is even more disturbing that it’s many Black people and people of color trying to tamp down simple questions of fans and mourners who, at a bare minimum are processing their grief. Part of finding acceptance in the loss for some is positing if it’s at all possible that there exists other motives and factors that would serve someone’s purpose if Nipsey, his works, and his influence were removed?
It’s not like there isn’t evidence of this happening in the past. A large chunk of the Black experience in America is contending with being systematically oppressed (still), redlined, ousted, discriminated against and gaslit when you point out and question the discrepancies. I mean, isn’t that how collusion is meant to work? To choke off or eliminate so much relevant information leading to the actual truth as to bring rational questions under scrutiny? “No, you’re paranoid!”... “No you’re crazy!” ... “No, it was just another jealous nigga shot another nigga trying to do some good.” … “He was a gangbanger though…” More “dead nigger narrative”.
What harm is it to ask? That GQ spread. Those properties he bought. Those kids he helped. That empowerment he inspired. The leverage he sought. Those ideas he had. That fearless willingness to sit down and break bread with, “powerful enemies”. Seriously, what harm is it to ask? We owe him that much.
When did we start trusting the LAPD? When has it ever been feasible for Black communities to take their word? We’ve been hearing for decades that the LAPD is corrupt. There are whole documentaries and essays that raise speculation. (We still haven’t gotten definitive answers on the deaths of Biggie and Tupac have we?) I know Nipsey was supposed to have a sit down with top officials in the LAPD, but I also know that there’s evidence/footage of his stores being raided and he and his people as well as customers being harassed by LAPD officers. From what I understand, it had happened quite regularly. There’s video out there of a top LAPD official openly weeping and expressing regret over Nipsey’s murder. Is it genuine? Isn’t it prudent to ask whether that display of emotion is genuine? What I will say is it doesn’t match. That official’s grief may be genuine, but my hackles are still raised because his subordinates’ lack of respect doesn’t match his displayed empathy.
"When did we start trusting the LAPD? When has it ever been feasible for Black communities to take their word? We’ve been hearing for decades that the LAPD is corrupt."
What about the disposition of Nipsey’s real estate stakes and interests? He was a definitive and adamant advocate of the concept of, “buying back the hood” and, “giving back to the neighborhood”. The information steadily coming out in the wake of his passing is progressively surprising. I’ve heard that Nipsey’s neighborhood, and the immediate surrounding areas, are essentially the last bastions of the Black LA community other than Compton. What then are those areas worth now? I’ve come to understand that there are plans and efforts to bring light rail technology and better, more accessible transportation to those areas; that Crenshaw would be connected to the airport finally. How much money, power and equity would you say that would have given Nipsey when you consider the inclusive nature and structure of his business model and more than generous philanthropy? I know he had plans to build affordable housing and work to attract businesses to create more opportunities for neighborhood residents. It was clear what his agenda was for that community. It sounds much like the agenda of the Black Panthers with better wherewithal and capital. Who would it serve if those properties, that leverage, lapsed to interests outside of that community? Who would it serve if the peace brokered by Nipsey’s presence and influence died with him? I’m interested to see who would stand to benefit now that Nipsey’s gone. Tell me who profits?
While it is apparent our deaths are way easier to dismiss for some, let’s be cognizant of how there may now be a missed opportunity to change the narrative and culture in Nipsey’s grieving community. There was a paradigm shift taking place. For many born into gang life, impacted by its proximity, or more accurately, the conditions which breed similar socialization and indoctrination; how many would have been well served to see a man like Nipsey stir from that slumber, empower his peers and future generations with the imagery and forward progress of second chances and redemption? For those born into poverty and dire circumstances how edifying and redemptive would it have been to see the results of smarter choices and purposeful living impact and improve their lives?
This raises a larger question. What was/is Nipsey’s succession plan? What is any of ours for that matter? Who is the “heir” of Nipsey’s endeavors? Who is his apprentice? What is the wherewithal of those closest to him now that he’s gone? Who is empowered to pick up the baton now? Who would dare further work in his name if this is the fate expected?
A powerful and vital trait of the generationally wealthy is a plan of succession. It is the greatest form of insurance to ensure the continuance of your work and endeavors when you are gone. Again, given the hindsight of history, it doesn’t escape me that the death of this man quite possibly may have served someone’s purpose/satisfaction beyond an individual violent/passionate response. It is well documented that the game and stakes of capitalism also supports the wariness of those who would not rule out conspiracy and foul play. Though opportunities and prosperity on a larger scale has been denied us; how else have we survived so long?