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Fans gather at Leimert Park to honor Michael Jackson

July 7, 2009 |  1:06 pm

In Leimert Park, a historic gathering spot for African American Angelenos, a dozen people marked Michael Jackson's passing with a moment of silence.

Led by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles commentator, the group gathered in a semicircle, clasped hands and bowed their heads at the Lucy Florence Coffee House. Hutchinson noted that Jackson, once asked how he wanted to be remembered, did not mention his music, fame or riches. He wanted to be remembered as a humanitarian, he said.

"Others should pick up on that spirit. ... There are so many needs," Hutchinson said. "Michael Jackson will live forever."

The group included a counselor, a paralegal, an insurance broker and others who said they wanted to share the moment with a public remembrance rather than grieve in private. They shared stories of growing up with Jackson's music, of seeing him on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and dancing to "Thriller" and "Beat It."

Star Saulter came bedecked in a black hat she decorated with rhinestones to spell out "MJ RIP." She said she registered for tickets to the Staples Center memorial four times under four different names but failed to win the lottery. So she came to Leimert Park.

"I want to be in a loving, harmonious environment [with people] who want to show love and appreciation for Michael and his music," she said. As she watched Lionel Richie sing "Jesus Is Love" at the televised memorial at Staples Center, she burst into tears.

-- Teresa Watanabe