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Young Dolph ‘Day of Service’ unfolded amid memories, ongoing investigation

Memphis rapper Young Dolph’s murder is still very much a raw-nerve memory, which many in his home city and beyond sought to counter with varied acts of kindness last week.

Dolph, whose name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was felled by a hail of bullets last November 17 in the Castalia Heights community that loved him as much as he embraced it.

A stretch of Dunn Ave. between Airways and Paige Road bears the honorary designation of Adolph Thornton, Jr. Road, the name of slain Memphis rapper Young Dolph.

On the first commemoration of his death, Dolph, whose philanthropic outreach was an endearing quality, was remembered in myriad places with both organized and random acts of kindness.

After he died, Tennessee and Georgia officially made Nov. 17 the Adolph ‘Young Dolph’ Thornton Jr. Day of Service.

In Memphis last week, the IdaMae Family Foundation sponsored free haircuts and served lunch at the Hospitality Hub. Dolph’s family and the crew at Paper Route Empire (PRE), his recording label, joined others in handing out winter kits, with blankets, gloves and other items.

In Atlanta, dinner and free haircuts were provided at the Evolution Center, a hub that provides emotional and physical support for men who are experiencing homelessness.

The pre-Thanksgiving turkey giveaway at St. James M.B.C. in Castalia Heights. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley/The New Tri-State Defender)

One day before the day-of-service remembrance, Pastor Rodney Herron and supporters of St. James Missionary Baptist Church, which Young Dolph frequented in Castalia Heights, distributed pre-thanksgiving turkeys on the church grounds.

Dolph was killed as he made a cookie run to a nearby eatery ahead of his intention to finalize details of that year’s pre-Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, which he sponsored. The giveaway went on amid the tragedy and was held again this year with Dolph’s memory in mind.

A string of recent social posts gave voice to what was felt widely:

“Still can’t believe you’re gone.”

“I wanted to be kind to someone, especially on your day.”

“You are missed…hard to play your music without crying.”

A screen-capture image of Young Dolph in the recently released single “Get Away.”

PRE also marked Nov. 17 with Young Dolph’s first posthumous release, “Get Away” – a single on the album “Paper Route Frank,” a highly-anticipated collection of the rapper’s unreleased music due out in December.

Meanwhile, new music dropped by one of Dolph’s accused murderers, Justin Johnson.

Johnson reportedly recorded the song “No Statements” over the phone. Johnson, whose rap name is “Straight Drop,” had only days before asked Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee for a safety-based transfer from the jail at 201 Poplar to the Shelby County Penal Farm.

Johnson’s newly hired defense attorney, Luke Evans of Nashville, declined to comment about his client’s new music release.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. also declined comment. However, his office confirmed that Johnson’s request to be moved was still under advisement.

Coffee asked for a Sheriff’s Department review of Johnson’s transfer request following Johnson’s appearance at a court hearing.

As for Johnson’s new song, Coffee said, “If any action is taken, that would be handled by authorities at the jail. I imagine they are reviewing Johnson’s access to the outside and his communication privileges.”

Johnson and Cornelius Smith, whom prosecutors allege are the two men captured on video of the killing, have been in custody since January.

A third man, Hernandez Govan, was arrested on Nov. 10 and subsequently pleaded not guilty to a charge that he conspired to have Dolph killed. He is due back in court on Dec. 16.

A fourth man, Jermarcus Johnson, surrendered on Friday to Memphis Police after he was named as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. He is accused of helping Justin Johnson while Johnson was a fugitive on the run from U.S. Marshalls, according to a Nov. 10 indictment.

It is unclear whether Justin Johnson and Jermarcus Johnson are related.


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