David McAtee was shot and killed early yesterday morning while Louisville police and the National Guard were attempting to break up a protest. It’s unclear who actually shot him because none of the police officers had activated their body cameras. Witnesses say he was trying to save the life of his niece, who had been caught in the crossfire. What is an undisputed fact is that the police left McAtee’s body in the street for 12 hours after he was shot.
McAtee was the owner of YaYa’s Barbecue, a popular barbecue stand at the corner where he was killed. He was known for feeding cops for free. But, as Anne Branigin writes on our sister site The Root, “What you need to know about McAtee, known by friends and neighbors as ‘YaYa’ or ‘Barbecue Man,’ is that he was deeply invested in his community—that he fed cops because he fed everyone in his pocket of western Louisville.”
We talk a lot on The Takeout about how food builds community, about how food can be the soul of a community. Take a few minutes to read Branigin’s essay about David McAtee. Then take another minute to think about David McAtee, what he meant to his corner of Louisville, and how now he is gone. What else is gone with him? How many other David McAtees have been killed by the endemic racism in this country? How much have we lost?