There probably were more ex-convicts with knockout punches gathered outside a Watts Baptist church at 114th Street and Graham Avenue recently than there were in all the gyms in Los Angeles that day.
The hard hitters — Bounty Hunter Bloods from Nickerson Gardens housing project — were convened at Macedonia Baptist Church, not to wreak havoc but to hear the wiser, original gangsters, the “Triple O.G.s,” exhort them to not “grab your Glocks” and “hunt down the killers” of a beloved homie.
The gathering was, in a real sense, a state funeral for Nickerson Gardens: a somber, loving, sometimes humorous farewell to Kevin “Flipside” White, aka “Dirty Kev,” a rapper with O.F.T.B. (Operation From The Bottom) who signed with Death Row Records in the 1990s. White, 44, was gunned down on Sept. 23 in front of his childhood home, about 500 feet from the church.
Ten minutes after Flip White was killed, Markice “Chiccen” Brider, 29, was shot to death a few blocks east on 114th Street at Imperial Courts housing project. The Los Angeles Police Department arrested three suspects for both shootings — Grape StreetCrips from Jordan Downs project in Watts — but only one has been charged.
Fear of a return to the bloody Watts of decades past put everyone on red alert.
Inside Macedonia Baptist, a Triple O.G. from way back, Ronald “Kartoon” Antwine, 54, shared tender remembrances of Flipside. He then urged the Bounty Hunters, L.A.’s most infamous Bloods, not to retaliate against Grape Street.
“Let the police do their job,” Antwine said. “Outside this church right now is the LAPD officer who did what he was supposed to do that night — and caught the shooters.”
Then something extraordinary happened. The overflowing congregation of 700 people stood and loudly cheered. It went on for 20 seconds.