Meet David McAtee, Who Was Killed In Louisville While Feeding Protestors
Martyred Black Lives Matter supporter David McAtee will tragically be remembered mostly for being left dead on the street for 12 hours after he was shot by Lousiville, KY police on Sunday night, and that the officers did not have their bodycams on, which led to the firing of the Lousiville police chief. McAtee had been serving food to protesters of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor when he was killed.
This is David McAtee.
He was the owner YaYa’s BBQ in Louisville, Kentucky. A pillar of his community, he gave free food to people in need
He even gave free food to the police who in return shot and killed him last night. Left his body on the street for 12 hrs.
SAY HIS NAME!💔 pic.twitter.com/SsEbqHeiAu
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) June 2, 2020
But let’s instead remember David McAtee with the words of his family and friends, or his own words he spoke while he was still with us. There is only one surviving interview with McAtee, from Walter and Marshae Smith’s the photo blog West of Ninth. You can find the interview here by scrolling halfway down the page to the February 8, 2018 entry, where McAtee discusses his business Yaya’s BBQ, why he settled in Louisville, and his penchant for serving people food for free:
“I’ve been doing this for about thirty years but I’ve been here for two. This location is the one of the busiest locations in West Louisville. I always wanted to be in this spot and when the opportunity came, I took it. If I go, somebody else will snatch it. I’ve already built my clientele and I’m not trying to give up my clientele. I’m here for a reason. Eventually, I’m going to buy this lot and build. I gotta start somewhere and this is where I’m going to start. It might take another year or two to get to where I’m going but I’m going to get there.
I live in the Highlands, I moved out of the West. I actually left the West End and moved to Atlanta. I lived there for about twenty years and came back. I’ve only been back in Louisville for about eight years. I had some ups and downs. I’ve been shot and robbed since I’ve been back. I was living a crazy lifestyle but I had to give it up. I have always been blessed with the skills to cook. I didn’t need anything else. People have to eat every single day and all I need is my skills.
I’m just thankful for being here. When I wake up, I gotta give thanks. Sometimes, you have to bless somebody because you were blessed. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to bless others. If you pass it down, a lot of people might be in a better place than before. A lot of us can be selfish and being selfish won’t get you too far in life.”
Justice for David McAtee https://t.co/BAxsOUnzyM
— James Corden (@JKCorden) June 2, 2020
Other people who remember David McAtee have given their thoughts on his memory. “He’s just a good, decent person,” Louisville city council president David James told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “He believes in this neighborhood. He loves his city, loves his neighborhood, loves to cook food, loves to keep people happy with his sense of humor. He’s just a great guy.”
"Right now, I can't tell you the feeling I have. All I can say — when a mother loses her child, a piece of you goes along with that child." — Odessa Riley, #DavidMcAtee's mother #Louisville #BreonnaTaylor pic.twitter.com/jdtI4mqcZL
— Philmonger (@phillipmbailey) June 1, 2020
His mother spoke to the Courier-Journal too. “He fed the police and didn’t charge them nothing,” Odessa Riley said. “And they come along and they killed my son.”
Riley apparently lost a daughter earlier this year, too. She told the Courier-Journal she buried her “baby daughter on Jan. 22” and “now, my baby son has gotten killed.”
— Zee (@ZChevelon) June 2, 2020
Event producers recalled McAtee showing up and cooking at gatherings for free, going back years. “He was one of the ones who would donate all his time and all his food,” Louisville resident Greg Cotton, Jr. said. “Everybody could just come up and take it and he wouldn’t charge because it was for the neighborhood.”
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) June 2, 2020
An NPR report this afternoon says that Louisville Police claim McAtee shot at them first. But the surveillance video, seen below, shows no conclusive evidence that McAtee was ever holding a gun, or that he fired any shots. It’s possible, but there is no sound or evidence of McAtee shooting at anyone in this video.
“Mr. McAtee’s legacy is something that cannot be duplicated or replaced,” Louisville councilperson Jessica Green told the Courier-Journal. “There are only a handful of people who care about the community the way that he did.”
You can support the Justice for David McAtee fundraiser here.