By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
|Photos by Ted Soqui|
Thousands of people showed up Monday evening at the House of Winston Mortuary on Vermont Avenue near 95th Street to view Williams’ body. It was a bizarre scene. People hawked Tookie-related T-shirts such as one reading “Fuck the Terminator.” Retired and new gang members from many different Crip sets mingled peacefully. Older women brought their grandchildren to see Tookie’s body. A young woman kept yelling, “They hung an innocent black man.” A few blocks on Vermont took on a carnival-like atmosphere with crowds of people laughing, greeting old friends, smoking marijuana.
One man leaning against his car looked at the multitudes and shook his head.
“It’s kind of a shame the most popular thing to do in Los Angeles on a Monday night is not watching NFL football but going to a mortuary,” said Malik Spellman, a writer and community activist who knew Williams.
Most of the gathering had never known Tookie Williams back in the days when his frighteningly large biceps intimidated people and he was well-known as a knockout artist. They came rather to see the man who had become, to many at least, a symbol of nonviolence and the tragedy of street gangs.
“Tookie in his young life helped start a terrible thing,” said Cardella Brown, who grew up in a rival Athens Park Bloods neighborhood. “But, maybe the young people, by young I mean like 9 or 10, can see this is not the way to live your life. He was a bad symbol, and he is now a positive symbol.”
Toward the end of his opening remarks at Tuesday’s funeral, the Rev. Logan called out, “Somebody shout 'Redemption’” — the name of a movie about Williams’ life and part of the title of his autobiography. “God, do for us what a governor didn’t have the courage to do.”
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city