The funeral home in Lawndale was packed last month, with mourners spilling into the parking lot and onto nearby sidewalks to pay respects to 29-year-old Michael Hemphill III.
Hemphill, a security guard who left behind a 10-year-old daughter, was described by friends and family as a happy man who enjoyed life. Police don’t know much about his killing, except that he was shot in Watts, among a gathering of people.
Those who came to commemorate Hemphill described the persistent violence that shades their own lives.
“This should not be a custom,” the minister, Akela Wroten Jr., told the standing-room crowd. “We gotta protect one another.”
Vera Conner described her son, known as “Mike Mike,” as a happy-go-lucky man who continued hanging out with boyhood friends in the Nickerson Gardens housing development even after he moved away.
Shortly after 11 p.m. April 12, gunfire rang out at the gathering ...