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New Interview With Nipsey Hussle’s Brother Alleges He Was Targeted and Harassed Due to LAPD’s Secret ‘LASER’ Program

photo: Joey Zanotti/Flickr

In a new podcast interview with Blacc Sam, the older brother of Nipsey Hussle, with The Guardian, allegations surface that Nipsey Hussle and Sam were sanctioned targets of frequent LAPD harassment. Specifically, the pair were alleged to be a focus of the police force's now-defunct LASER (Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration) program, which tried to use predictive policing to zero in on likely offenders and criminal locations.

Safi (Blacc Sam's real name) accuses the LAPD's 77th Division of closely watching the slain L.A. rapper while canvassing his families and business associates, and putting specific pressure on the siblings' Marathon Clothing store. Sam went into detail about how the store itself was ironically launched due to similar police harassment in their lives.

Before opening Marathon in 2017, Blacc Sam says, "We were selling shirts, socks, clothing, and shoes across the street from the Louisiana Fried Chicken. They would come and arrest us, cuff us, and take all of our stuff. We would be looking up as all of that happened like ‘Damn, we just lost thousands of dollars of merchandise. Y’all not doing this to nobody else. We trying to be legit.’"

To which he claims the cops would reply: “‘Nah, y’all not legit until y’all pay taxes, like everyone else. You got to pay rent’."

But even opening a licensed haberdashery failed to quell the suspicions of law enforcement. Sam details the perpetual presence of officers coming in and out of and watching the store, including out-of-state cops that would enter as fans then find themselves questioned for intel.

He alleges that the LAPD even tried to get Hussle's landlord to evict them from the space. In support of Nipsey and the neighborhood's come-up, the landlords actually sold him the space instead.

“Their whole goal was just to shut us down,” Sam told the reporter. “Even though positive things were happening in the store.”

All this police pressure is said to originate with Hussle and Marathon being targeted by Operation LASER, a clandestine police program that uses data from the Crime Intelligence Detail in an attempt to pinpoint chronic offenders and chronic locations to stop violent crimes, robberies, and homicides, particularly those considered to be gang-related. The program employs technology from Palantir, a big data analysis firm co-founded by Pro-Trump investor Peter Thiel, which makes a lot of dough from government contracts.

The LASER program, which may or may not have been named by an 11-year-old nerd, aggregates everything from traffic citations to arrest records and custody release forms to create bulletins or profiles of potential offenders, funneling that info to a Crime Intelligence Detail that included patrol and bike cops to devote additional time each month to surveillance of those areas, with efforts to disrupt and deter potential crimes. A point system effectively ranked individuals in terms of priority.

Ironically, all this effort was being devoted to Nipsey, who was with the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips, and Marathon despite the store serving as the rapper's legal path out of his past. Also, as the 4NoFame podcast points out, "If you was watching him under Operation Laser, how was he able to get smoked in the parking lot in front of his own business?"

Hussle was shot and killed at the age of 33 in 2019 by a former friend, Eric Holder, aka Shitty Cuz. According to transcripts in a Los Angeles grand jury report, Holder's reputation for being a police informant himself may have led to Nipsey's murder, as the rapper mentioned it at their deadly last meeting before the gun was fired. An even more wild, totally unconfirmed accusation claims that Holder has directly blamed the government for sponsoring a hit on Hussle.

The LASER Program ended in April 2019, just weeks after Hussle's death, allowing bad cops to go back to playing Pokémon, getting gang ink, and targeting the still-living icons of hip-hop. The program was terminated over suspicions that, surprise surprise, it was unfairly targeting Black and Latino communities.

In the wake of all the LAPD harassment, Blacc Sam at one point speaks about how he and Nipsey had even briefly considered moving the store. However, Hussle's commitment to his Crenshaw District and Hyde Park neighborhood and overruled, keeping his business firmly planted at Crenshaw and Slauson.

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