Tribute: The LOVE Movement
“Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him…”Ozzie Davis, Eulogy of Malcolm X
The early hours of February 16th a man lay dying on a Seattle sidewalk, shot as he walked through his beloved neighborhood home to his family after work.
Raised in the Central District, Tyrone Love was unique.At 26 years old he provided for his mother and sisters Gwen and Christyna, and girlfriend Margarita Quevedo-Walker.
Tyrone ran a successful business, Vibrant Entertainment 206, with partners Jamar Jones and Bruce Williams.
Talk to those who knew him best and the description is consistent: Tyrone focused every day on giving back and making a positive difference in his community.He was the peace keeper, the idealist, the one to turn to when you needed a non-judgmental ear or honest advice.He was the big brother, the best friend, the one who always had something positive to contribute.He was never concerned with himself and always put others first.
For the Love of the City
Chukunde Salisbury (aka DJ Kun Luv), CEO of The SeaSpot, first met Tyrone when he was a student at Garfield High School, and Kun worked at the community center.He DJ’d most of Garfield’s student events, and a mutual respect grew easily despite the more than 10 year age difference.
Kun Luv started promoting his own DJ events online in 1997, well before the internet was the information super highway that it is now- when all you had was a dial-up modem, a scanner and AOL email.Seeing Seattle Urban culture on a computer screen created a spark.
The need grew and the SeaSpot.com was born.“I started it because there was a need.This traditionally a flier town, and during that time, more and more people were moving out [of the city limits] if you didn’t get the flier for next week, you didn’t know what was going on.It just seemed like a lot of the people (local talent and DJ’s) that matter to me and to us, it wasn’t in the Weekly, it wasn’t in the Stranger, it wasn’t in the Seattle Times- they have some band that doesn’t even have an album out [on the cover].Nothing against those papers, there was no one doing articles on our people, and especially the scene I was in, so it was a niche.We wanted to be the gateway to the Northwest urban culture.We did that.”
Tyrone joined SeaSpot in ‘03/’04.“He had a sense of organization.He was a natural, really personable.He was the leader of the Street Team crew.He had a lot of charisma, he was a people person, you gotta have that when you’re trying to convince people to come to events.People aren’t buying the product, they’re buying the person.Once you get off the mainstream, people start looking at ‘who handed me this’, so that’s important in promotion.”
The site receives 3 million hits a month, with 50,000 registered users all eager for the information- and the connection to urban and hip hop culture that it provides.
SeaSpot is 11 year old, and Kun Luv recognizes the importance of expansion and now includes a site focused on gospel, one for the urban professional network, and a site targeting high school students.“How can we be the gateway to urban culture if we don’t capture that whole scene?It’s not just about the party scene.”
Tyrone relished the work, and eventually wanted to start his own business, something Kun Luv and the rest of SeaSpot fully supported.Vibrant Entertainment 206 was born, headed by Tyrone, Jamar Jones and Bruce Williams.
The Next Level
Jamar met Tyrone in 2003 through the SeaSpot.After a few years they came together with Bruce and decided to combine their efforts in Vibrant.
“He was unique; he was different,” recalls Jamar.“He made me humble, and mellowed me out a lot.Just being around him, he was a really cool person.I don’t know how to explain it.”
Vibrant set out to run a legitimate business that provided opportunities for people to kick it and have a good time, while also quietly promoting west coast hip hop- and music in general- through the DJ’s they worked with.It’s a venture often underestimated.
“People think we just throw parties,” he says, “we have a business license, we have insurance, it’s not just some guys hanging out kickin’ it, this is how we support our families.People think we can just walk into any venue and say ‘we want to throw a party here’; it’s not like that with hip hop, you have to come with a resume.” Jamar explains that mainstream promoters who may not turn out as many people have an easier time locking down venues- mostly because of stereotypes and misperceptions about urban culture.
In ‘07/’08 a rash of club related shootings caused Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nickel’s to go after venues for the purpose of shutting them down; and used the state liquor board to do it.Jamar- and others, say that urban culture and its music got caught up in the situation and pointed to as a cause for violence- a concern many share.
Now when they propose a venue, Vibrant is presented with contracts that ban West Coast hip hop- Top 40 hits only.“We have some local hip hop and R&B that’s really great.What are we supposed to play?Hip hop is a way of life, it’s a culture, and it’s not just some gang members [who] listen to it.Rap is society now, you have to face it.Everyone listens to it.”
The misconceptions of urban culture bothered Tyrone.“Tyrone is a hip hop head.He always used to say ‘hip hop lives’.
The Mayor never reached out to the urban community in his efforts to make the point that violence would not be tolerated, but the promoters reached out to him.“We invited him.He was nowhere to be found.”
True Love Remembered
When you talk to Margarita Quevedo-Walkerit is easy to understand why Tyrone loved her so much.Intelligent, grounded, funny and real; her character is without pretense.
An energy surrounds her; it is the evidence of what cannot be seen; the deep, soulful connection they still share to this day.
“We were friends first,” she explains as her face changes.When she recounts memories of their quiet courtship, the genuine happiness he brought to her life plays colorfully across her eyes and teases her mouth into a broad smile.After months, Tyrone professed his love in his own way, announcing to her one day that it was time for her best friend- whom she hung with daily- to share her- with him.
“I think from that day on, we were never apart,” she explained as her face warmed and she laughed in wonderment, shaking her head.“He always made a point every day to tell me “Did I tell how beautiful you are today?”We told each other we love one another millions of times in a day or more.”
There is no need to embellish the memories.“Everything he did, he did for the women in his life; his sisters, his mom and me.He worked so hard to take care of us, and he did…he really did.He was the man of the house.”
She cannot recount his life without moving to the details of his senseless murder.Margarita dropped Tyrone off in Pioneer Square that night, and she finds herself thinking about the last time she saw him; “why did he look at me that way?Why did he say ‘bye’ the way he did?All night long, something didn’t feel right.”
It was Margarita that discovered Tyrone hadn’t made it home.She awoke to find his side of the bed empty; something was wrong.
Jamar received an early morning text.“It said that Tyrone didn’t come home and I knew something was up, he always goes home.” Jamar sent out word asking if anyone knew where Tyrone was.
Kun Luv:“I remember thinking that it was strange, that he hadn’t been home yet,” he recalls, “but I wasn’t worried.”
But then news came in; an unidentified 26 year old male had been shot to death just blocks away from Tyrone’s house.
The unthinkable was confirmed around 9:00am.Margarita recounts, “I was upstairs in his room, and the…I can’t really describe it, the scream…I heard his mom scream, and I ran, I almost fell down the stairs onto his mom.”A man, dressed in dark clothes stood in the front doorway.“He didn’t belong, you know?He wasn’t a friend of the family, he didn’t look like anybody…he wasn’t supposed to be there.”
Tattoos on a body in the King County morgue were described to the family- the 26 year old killed that morning was Tyrone, and the memory of Roberta Love’s scream- a wail of maternal agony- is something Margarita will never forget; “I have dreams about that scream.”
Jamar called Bruce who was in Portland hosting a Vibrant event.“He didn’t believe me.”
“It seemed surreal,” described Kun, who also received word from Jamar, “I just couldn’t believe it…oh my God.”
People were calling and texting; did you hear about Tyrone?Is it true?What can we do?
A makeshift memorial grew and Margarita went to see it for herself.Flowers, candles and pictures could not pull her attention from the 5 spray painted dots that marked where Tyrone’s head, arms and feet had been.A scratched button from his clothes, discarded in the horror of those fleeting seconds, lay on the cold cement.“I still have it, the button,” she says.
When asked what is hardest each day, she answers immediately, “waking up each morning.”Tyrone has visited her in dreams, as he has others.Sleep is when she can touch him again, when he shows her glimpses of paradise, and when she can tell him profusely just how much she loves him.As sleep fades in the morning she tries in vain to pull him out, and back to the life they shared, back to his sisters and mother, their puppy and weekly nacho nights with his best friend.
While she grapples with the brutal pain that comes with such a senseless experience, she is wise enough to also know the impact of Tyrone’s murder is something Seattle has never seen before and describes it in one word: “amazing”.
DJ Kun Luv had a mission; $9,000 was needed for the funeral.He set up an account and put out the word- go to the bank right now and deposit $20.The plea was replicated in text messages emails and Facebook posts.Promoters from across the city gave profits from a nights work and donations came in from around the globe.A benefit concert brought in nearly $6,000 in a few hours.
The tone was set.Tyrone was not your average guy, he was special, he was important, he was cherished.His family would be taken care of.His name, reputation and legacy would be protected by those who knew and loved him.
As for the murderer, there were more rumors than facts.
It was the second point of action for the community and a press conference was held to highlight The Silent War Campaign which served to send two very clear messages; violence in the community must stop and the silence that has prevented justice from being served in numerous shootings of Black young men and boys must cease; no murders in our midst- if you know who did this, you must come forward.
Mayor Nickels spoke at a rally against violence, alerted by his Director of Community Outreach Pamela Banks, a long-time resident of the Central District who also works on the Youth Violence Initiative, a lofty yet severely underfunded City-led effort to break the cycle of violence for those at risk and those whose lives have been impacted.The Mayor since requested to meet with Kun Luv and others close to Tyrone to talk about violence prevention- a wise move considering the large urban audience they connect with and influence regularly.
The Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative will set a new direction by identifying and helping children who are at a vulnerable point in their lives. Specifically, the initiative will:
- Help youth with repeat offenses re-enter society from state detention programs.
- Provide alternatives for youth who are arrested for crimes, but released because they don’t meet the admission criteria for county detention.
- Help middle-school truants and students at risk of suspension stay in school and succeed.
- Prevent victims of violence and their friends and relatives from continuing the cycle of violence through retaliation.
Love Lives On
Tyrone’s funeral was standing room only.On speaker commented that babies, elders, friends and enemies had all come together to honor him.
To date, more than $20,000 has been raised to support the Love family in their greatest time of need as they struggle to carry the insufferable weight of loss and grief.
His friends work to find the good- and to keep Tyrone alive as they move forward.Margarita and others are working on a public mural; an idea Pamela Banks says the City can likely give funding to.
Jamar envisions a scholarship in Tyrone’s name, and stresses Vibrant isn’t going anywhere.“He loved music, especially hip hop and he wanted to make sure that hip hop continued and that people embraced it as a culture that is positive.He was all about keeping it in the city, and making sure everyone had fun, and was safe.We’re going to make sure that happens.Tyrone was someone who can’t be replaced; he was the heart and soul of what we created.We want to thank everyone for their support, it’s overwhelming.”
For Margarita, Tyrone’s impact is simple yet profound.He led a purpose-driven life.“All he wanted was to make a difference in people’s lives, and be remembered for that.He did that.He never knew that he really did accomplish that.He did make a difference in millions of lives, and people will always remember him for that.He was a good person who loved his family and wanted to make a difference.He gave one hundred percent in everything he did.He was perfect.”
Anyone with information about Tyrone’s murder should call Seattle Police Detective Russ Weklych 206-684-5550
Contribution to the Estate of Tyrone Love Benevolent Account are still being accepted at Bank of America; give to support his family and honor his life’s contribution.