David McAtee's Horrific Death Exemplifies Why We Continue to Protest

What happened to David McAtee? The Louisville, Kentucky resident was murdered by police at a local rally, and his body was left there for 12 hours.

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Jun. 2 2020, Updated 1:37 p.m. ET

Protests regarding police brutality have swept the nation and resulted in tremendous acts of violence from authorities. Peaceful protestors have been gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and even mowed down by a police car. One person, named David McAtee, was killed by policemen who opened fire onto a crowd of protestors.

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What happened to David McAtee was truly horrendous, and it reflects why we continue to protest. Before continuing to read this article, however, please note there is a trigger warning for extreme violence and racism.

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Who was David McAtee?

David McAtee was a local restaurant owner, a beloved friend and family member, and was widely regarded as a beloved community figure, according to CNN. And as someone who was highly involved in his community, it came as no surprise that McAtee chose to attend a local rally that protested the murder of Breonna Taylor.

Taylor was a 26-year-old Louisville, Kentucky resident and ER technician, who was shot at least eight times by plainclothes detectives after they broke into her home. The police were reportedly searching for two men they believed were selling drugs, though the two men did not reside with Taylor and the suspect they were searching for was already in police custody. Breonna Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Taylor says they heard no knock and thought an intruder was breaking in. Taylor says he fired in self defense on the officers, who shot back, killing Taylor.

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Why was McAtee shot?

During the rally protesting Taylor's murder, shortly after midnight on May 31, police opened fire on protestors. Witnesses and bystanders alike have confirmed the crowd wasn't protesting when police opened fire, but police allege they were "returning fire" because protestors were shooting at them, according to Courier Journal. 

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One of the bullets fatally struck McAtee, and his body remained in the same spot for approximately 12 hours. He was still there when protestors gathered at noon the following day. Kentucky's governor, Andy Beshear, has reportedly ascribed McAtee's death to the Louisville Metro Police Department and the National Guard, according to The Intercept, and Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired. Unfortunately, every officer's body camera was turned off at the time.

“He didn’t hurt nobody, didn’t deserve to get shot down like he did,” McAtee’s sister said. “I don’t know what happened, but whatever happened here, my brother didn’t do nothing wrong. He was an innocent person, an innocent bystander. He did not deserve this at all.”

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How can we help McAtee's family and the Black Lives Matter cause?

McAtee will be greatly missed by his friends, family, and Black allies across the globe. There is currently a GoFundMe page in McAtee's name, which will donate funds to his family for a funeral.

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In regards to helping the cause, there are several bail-out funds to bail frontline protestors out of jail, as well as cause-related organizations such as Campaign Zero, which goes towards ending police brutality; Black Visions Collective, which is dedicated to black liberation; and Reclaim the Block, which funds “community-led safety initiatives" in Minneapolis. Donations are absolutely necessary right now, and every dollar counts.

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We hope that justice for McAtee and all other victims of police brutality will be served.

RIP David McAtee, you will forever be in our hearts.

If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.

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