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Homelessness

Darrell Fields, Beloved Guitarist Living in Skid Row, Burned to Death While Inside His Tent

Homeless in Skid Row. (Photo by by Philip Iglauer/LA Taco archive)

[dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]n Monday night, long-term Skid Row resident and artist Darrell Fields was burned to death near the intersection of 6th and San Pedro streets, according to the Los Angeles Times. It is the latest in a recent uptick of attacks on unhoused Angelenos in the area. He was 62, confirmed by his wife Valerie. Alongside Valerie, Fields is survived by his three sisters and his tight-knit community in Skid Row. 

Authorities report that suspect Jonathan Early was arrested near where Fields was gruesomely killed shortly after officers responded to the scene. He is currently being held on suspicion of murder. The case was set to be presented to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office today. 

Fields was also known as “Hendrix” by his closest friends. Before moving to Skid Row, he had played with The Isley Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone. He had even formed a rock cover band called The Purple Haze Experience. 

“If you closed your eyes—no kidding—he plays the guitar just as well as Jimi Hendrix,” said Pete White, Executive Director and Founder of Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN). White had gotten close to Fields after he joined LA CAN to help grow the group’s arts and culture program. 

The elegance of purple as the Skid Row community celebrates the life of Darrell “Jimi Hendrix” Fields. pic.twitter.com/RMy6Zy9RrK

— LA CAN (@LACANetwork) August 29, 2019

Skid Row, currently home for 2,783 unsheltered people, has seen varying acts of violence within the past month. Just last week, four people were wounded in a shooting in San Julian Park after a man and a woman got into an altercation with someone in the park. Earlier this month, a 59-year-old Gustavo Zeledon was struck to death with a pipe and robbed in the 800 block of 5th Street. He had later died as a result of his injuries.

'We want to say to folks that we understand the pressures of poverty, we understand the violence...but we can never allow it to turn us against one another in any way.'

LA CAN organized a vigil and procession last night, August 28, 2019, at 6 PM for Fields. The community gathered at 838 E. 6th Street and walked towards Fields’ home to celebrate his life and also find healing in the recent series of attacks in Skid Row. 

“This violence is misplaced in Skid Row. There is something in the air right now that we are hoping to disrupt this evening,” White told L.A. Taco. “We want to say to folks that we understand the pressures of poverty, we understand the violence...but we can never allow it to turn us against one another in any way.”

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