Odessa Riley, mother of 53-year-old David McAtee, was escorted to the corner where her son died under Louisville Police fire.
The world as we know it may be at the cusp of radical change, but right now it just looks like a blizzard of urgent headlines.
“Louisville police shot dead the city’s beloved Black ‘BBQ Man,’ aka ‘Ya-Ya.’”
That’s all I could muster today, given how hard it is to stop chasing headlines around the Web and focus more deeply, as the citizenry struggles toward something better or further descends into violent dystopia. News can tyrannize attention, and I imagine that Black Agenda Report readers are suffering the same tyranny I am. Executive Editor Glen Ford told me he was when I told him that I didn’t know what I could do this week besides headline news.
Louisville: David McAtee dies under police fire, June 1
I did try to get in touch with Sharon Scott, the general manager of Pacifica Radio affiliate WXOX 97.1 FM-Louisville for on-the-ground news, but we couldn’t connect in time for Black Agenda Report. Last night on Facebook she said that Louisville’s a war zone and that Mayor Greg Fischer has caved to the police union. Today she promised to connect me to a popular WXOX DJ who’s been on the front lines.
Mayor Fischer did at least fire Police Chief Steve Conrad after Louisville police shot dead 53-year-old David McAtee just after midnight on Monday. McAtee was the city’s beloved Black “BBQ Man,” aka Ya-Ya, who ran a barbecue stand at the corner of 26th and Broadway. The police claim that someone fired at them when they responded to a gathering after curfew in a parking lot at the same corner, and that they fired back, killing McAtee. His distraught mother said, “He never hurt no one,” and the mayor went to visit her.
David McAtee died under Louisville police fire, but we’ll never know exactly how because the cops had their body-cameras turned off. That’s why the chief got fired.
Louisville: Breonna Taylor dies under police fire, March 13
Louisville is also where Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American emergency medical technician, died under police fire on March 13. Here’s some of what the New York Times compiled about her death:
“Shortly after midnight on March 13, Louisville police, executing a search warrant, used a battering ram to crash into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician. After a brief confrontation, they fired several shots, striking her at least eight times.
“According to The Louisville Courier Journal, the police were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house that was far from Ms. Taylor’s home. But a judge had also signed a warrant allowing the police to search Ms. Taylor’s residence because the police said they believed that one of the two men had used her apartment to receive packages. The judge’s order was a so-called 'no-knock' warrant, which allowed the police to enter without warning or without identifying themselves as law enforcement
“Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said her daughter had had big dreams and planned a lifelong career in health care after serving as an E.M.T. and as an emergency room technician.”
Swat teams, militarized police, National Guard, and more US troops?
Now there are National Guard, swat teams, militarized police, and curfews in cities all over the country, and Trump’s threatening to deploy more US troops.
Last night I violated Alameda County’s 8-pm-to-5-am curfew by 10 minutes to get myself a little alcohol, but all the stores were shut down in compliance, even though I live in a sleepy little neighborhood on the county’s northwestern edge, where there’s rarely more than one person on the street at any given hour. This is bullshit, and now our infamous Sheriff Gregory Ahern has extended the curfew to June 5 with exceptions for emergency first responders, media, “people experiencing homelessness,” those seeking medical care, and people traveling to or from work.
I probably could’ve found a press pass and come up with an excuse to cover the corner liquor store, but the sheriff doesn’t consider it essential. What does he know? I’ve gotta stock up before the supply chains collapse. I’m hoping to secure some vegetables in exchange for labor on a friend of mine’s rooftop garden, but there’s no room for a still.
Shutting down Interstate 880 and Highway 101
A march in Oakland shut down Interstate 880 for a while last Friday night, but the hottest city in the Bay Area has been San Jose, way down the peninsula in Silicon Valley. Protesters there shut down Highway 101 and lit quite a few fires.
In San Francisco City and County, Mayor London Breed declared an 8-pm-to-5-am curfew but exempted the homeless, who number between 8,011 and 9,784, depending on how you count them. Either way, they’re the largest homeless population in the San Francisco Bay Area. And, unless the State of California generates some kind of rent relief, homeless numbers will balloon from Del Norte and Humboldt to San Diego Counties soon. The State should pay everyone’s rent instead of devising some complicated loan repayment scheme to protect landlords and further punish people who can’t pay their rent because of COVID-19. After being out of work for months, people are supposed to be able to start paying months of back rent with interest?
Minneapolis: Mayor lets the 3rd Precinct police station burn
Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin might not have been arrested for murdering George Floyd if Minneapolis protestors hadn't burned down their 3rd Precinct police station, but now Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is taking heat for ordering police to stand down, surrendering the station to the protesters. Right on, Mayor Frey. With leadership like that I’d respect his 8 pm curfew for at least one night. And besides he’s hella cute.
With schools and universities closed and 40 million people out of work there are fewer constraints to calm things down than there usually are. And how many of the suddenly unemployed will have a job to go back to? Twenty-five percent of restaurants are expected to close for good. Nordstrom’s closed 16 outlets and three boutiques, Victoria’s Secret closed 250 retail outlets, AMC Theatres may be closing permanently too, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Only Amazon and Walmart are allowed to take Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, California’s equivalent of food stamps—one more reason they’re expanding while the rest of the US contracts.
Meanwhile the feckless feds have responded by promising job training. As what? Cops? Amazon, Doordash and Instacart delivery drivers?
And though some protestors are wearing masks, they don't seem otherwise worried about social distancing.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. Please support her work on Patreon. She can be reached at ann-at-anngarrison.com.
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