LOS ANGELES – Hundreds of people converged Monday on the South Los Angeles neighborhood where Stanley Tookie Williams co-founded the Crips to say goodbye to a "homeboy" executed last week over the objections of supporters who said he had turned his life around.
Williams, clad in a gray suit, lay in an open coffin at the House of Winston Mortuary as people quietly filed by with their heads bowed.
"Mostly everyone is out here because of his reputation," said Robert Collins, 27, who said he was a former Crips gang member. "Everyone knew Tookie was no angel. Everyone's just paying their respects to him."
A line of 200 stretched out the door shortly after the six-hour viewing began in mid-afternoon. More than an hour later, the line had dissipated but people were still streaming through.
Williams, whose execution was carried out over the protests of supporters who included celebrities and civil rights activists, spent his last years on California's Death Row renouncing gang violence and writing several children's books warning of the dangers of gangs.
See Love, a teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District, said she had seen firsthand the way Williams' book "Life in Prison" had changed students' lives.
"Tookie's words were able to do what no judge or probation officer was able to do," said Love, 35. "I hope Stanley's spirit continues to live in the name of peace."
Williams, 51, was executed last Tuesday for the murders of four people during a pair of 1979 robberies. Although he had renounced his past as co-founder of the deadly Crips, he maintained to his death that he did not commit the killings.
A crowd lingering outside the mortuary carried signs and handed out flyers proclaiming his innocence.
Lori Tompkins, 48, of Los Angeles, said she came "to say goodbye to our homeboy and also give support to his family."
"We feel he was innocent and wrongly killed," she added.
The viewing was to be followed by a funeral Tuesday in Los Angeles. Organizers said those expected to attend included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg.