About 150 people, mostly African-American, gathered Monday night in Leimert Park to pray and remember the life of Stanley Tookie Williams. Unlike the scene outside San Quentin, no TV anchors used the setting as a backdrop; there were just a few spot-news crews. Still, a couple of people chanted and held signs that read Save Tookie, until a highly agitated man told them to put down their signs and Shut the fuck up! This gathering wasnt about that, he told them, its about this, referring to the blue rag he held in his hand. He placed the blue rag on the protesters signs and again told them to put them down. The protestors ignored him so he ripped the signs from their hands and threw them to the ground. The signs didnt come up again.
Right after the 11 p.m. news window, with Tookie still alive, the camera crews hightailed it out of there. One radio reporter later said from the perceived safety of his car that he was intimidated and unwelcomed out of the area. The crowd ranged in age from teens to people in their 60s.
At 10 minutes to midnight, community leader Naja Ali called for everyone to gather in a circle and join hands in the middle of the Christmas-lit Leimert Park. Blue candles, the color of the Crips, burned bright. At midnight, a lone man began a respectful and passionate prayer and speech in tribute to Tookie. The circle held together as Tookie was executed in San Quentin. A few people openly sobbed.
One man, wearing a No GANGS button in his hat, held a candle as it burned down low, spilling hot wax onto his bare hand. He remained still and deep in prayer.
The only interruption was from a low-flying LAPD chopper that quickly buzzed over.
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All photos by Ted Soqui