On the eve of Mother’s Day, a rally cry for help was held at the intersection of Adams Blvd. and Mable Ave. in South L.A., where University of Southern California (USC) senior student/artist Victor McElhaney was robbed and killed just two months ago.
Mass supporters came out to ask support from the community finding Victor’s at large killers. Led by Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price and Oak- land City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Victor’s mother, the rally appealed to community members to speak out and help bring to justice the killers of the young student who gave so much to the world and had so much more to give.
“We are standing in the very space that my son took his last breath,” said Councilwoman McElhaney to supporters congregated around the speakers. Also, USC students carried paintings of their lost classmate and other rally-goers wore black t-shirts with Victor’s image painted next to the words, Heal, Love, Hope, Life.
The councilwoman has spent years advocating for parents of slain children on the inner-city streets of Oakland. But when she shouted for justice on May 11, it was for her son. “Victor! He was my baby! Someone killed my baby!” she screamed to the crowd. LAPD representatives also asked the South L.A. community for help in identifying three suspects, described as male Hispanics in their early 20’s, who fled the scene in a black four-door sedan.
Victor was assaulted while venturing about a mile east off-campus with fellow USC students. He was robbed at gunpoint Just after midnight, on Sunday, March 10, in a parking lot and the prominent senior never returned to campus; he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 11:00 a.m. later that morning.
Since the murder, there have been no arrests. To ignite interest in resolving the murder, McElhaney’s family staged the rally in the same parking lot car stall where his fellow student and friend held him as he died. According to Councilwoman McElhaney, the rally and canvassing action was organized by the Oakland-based victim’s advocacy organization Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), USC’s Brothers Breaking B.R.E.A.D, the Black Student Assembly with support from Councilmember Price, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, the USC Latinx Student Assembly, GRYD and LA Street Poets.
Victor’s mother opened with the plea, “Our intention is to lift up love … we intend to lift up the ‘Love Life Culture.’ So, let it love reign, let healing rein.”
Fused with the live djembe drumming, Victor’s father, Clarence McElhaney, led a libation ceremony to honor his son and past victims of gun-violence on the streets of the inner-city. As he poured water unto a yellow flower on the parking lot, where his son died, he spoke about the victims of gun-violence. “We want to recognize and respect that these people, through no fault of their own, were living life as we all try to do, but were taken out too early,” he said.
Victor’s parents recently participated in his commencement at USC, where he was posthumously given a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in music with an emphasis on jazz from the Thornton School of Music.
Price added that the gathering was held to bring a clear message. “We are committed to finding these killers and bringing them to justice. We are not going to tolerate folks terrorizing our neighborhood!”
A fellow student spoke out. “He wasn’t just fighting for change for Black people, he was fighting for change for all people. He showed me freedom. He showed me how to be creative. He showed me that it’s okay that you’re still discovering yourself,” she said.
Addressing a culture of youth who show a disregard for life, Councilwoman McElhaney noted, “We’ve got some men out there who don’t know the value of their own lives. And they are young from what I’m told. They have taken a gun and they have taken my baby’s life.
“And they need to be brought in to account for that action, so they can be restored to their own humanity. They don’t need to be at large where they can do harm to another mother’s child and children. “Those who love them, need to help us make the community safe again,” she said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also called for bringing the suspects to justice. “It’s better that you bring them in because we will find them, one way or another. We will not rest until the matter is appropriately dissolved and the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he said. “The least we can do as a city and a county is to make sure justice is done. We owe this to this family. Nothing else is going to be acceptable until we resolve this!”
Councilwoman McElhaney encouraged the rally supporters to disperse, pass out fliers and spread the word around the neighborhood. Rally supporters chanted from the sidewalk and gathered around the intersection of Maple Ave. and Adams Blvd., where they distributed information, held up signs, and used bullhorns to draw attention to the unsolved murder. “We gotta stop the silence to stop the violence. Say something, say something!” they shouted.
“Man, we need people to come forward, but people are afraid, especially with police presence. We’re just trying to go through life like you guys and we need your help,” said another USC student.
Slain rapper Nispey Hussle’s mother, Angelique Smith, who attended the rally remarked, “Our sons were beautiful, kind, loving, compassionate, progressive, fearless Black men, who stood true in solidarity for deliberation, of not just their race of Black people but for all people.”
Embracing Councilwoman McElhaney, Smith lamented, “I feel their passing has created a paradigm shift in thinking, and there is more light in people’s hearts and in their minds because of the light they gave.”
Theresa Butler of Oakland, a co-founder of Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), was Victor’s Sunday school teacher and family friend. “Victor is like my son … my nephew. So, of course I am here,” she said. Butler said SAVE brought people out from Oakland to lend support. “We are happy to be a part of this process here to bring justice to Victor and canvasing the neighborhood and letting them know that enough is enough. We are not going to take this anymore.”
Victor’s friends and family set up a sacred shrine in his name. Councilwoman McElhaney banded the group into a circle where they chanted, sang, and prayed.
Victor’s friend, Mike, led a call and response. “We have a duty to fight for freedom! It is our duty to win! We must love and protect each other! We have nothing to lose but out chains! I believe … I will win!” they yelled.
Chiming in, Councilwoman McElhaney shouted, “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now! Say his name! Victor! Somebody killed my baby and they are still out there!”
Police are requesting those with information contact (213) 486-6890 or anonymously We Tip Crime Stoppers (800) 222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.
* This story has been updated with no information and images.
Additional Photos E. Mesiyah McGinnis / Sentinel