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Mourners Pay Respect To David McAtee In Louisville

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Later today in Louisville, David McAtee will be laid to rest. He was a black barbecue chef who was shot and killed by National Guard in the doorway of his restaurant last week. Authorities were enforcing a nighttime curfew put in place amid protests against police violence. WFPL's Jess Clark went to his wake yesterday.

JESS CLARK, BYLINE: A line of friends and acquaintances stretches down the sidewalk outside the St. Stephen's Church. At the door, people are let in one by one to pay their respects, after having their temperature checked to screen for the coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: You're welcome. Oh, here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Thank you.

CLARK: In line is Calvin Brown, who used to visit McAtee's shop called Yaya's BBQ. He says McAtee was a role model for people in this neighborhood, where some residents grapple with poverty.

CALVIN BROWN: You could still look at David McAtee and say, I can do what you're doing because it was a barbecue grill, a bag of charcoal and some meat. And people supported him. And they felt the love they he shared.

CLARK: McAtee was known for giving free food to the homeless, as well as to the police. It's still unclear exactly what happened the night he died. When the National Guard and police arrived to enforce the curfew, shooting pepper balls, police say McAtee fired his gun. His nephew, Marvin McAtee, says he doesn't think his uncle would ever knowingly target police. And he's upset the family hasn't gotten an apology.

MARVIN MCATEE: I mean, there's no justice for me because that don't bring him back. I can't change what happened that day. All I can do is tell the police, I just wish they would've came and said they sorry for what happened because, you know, we was there for them.

CLARK: Marvin has inherited the barbecue shop. And he says he's trying his best to carry on his uncle's legacy.

MCATEE: A couple of days ago, you know, I was doing things at the shop, and then I get - I paused for a minute because I be like - I can hear him saying to me, you know you ain't doing that right, you know what I'm saying (laughter)? So, you know, it's just the feeling in the shop, man. I love that energy in the shop because he's in there with me, you know? I don't even know how to explain to you, but I just feel him in me when I'm in that shop.

CLARK: Marvin and his family go inside the chapel, where McAtee's body is dressed in a white suit in a gold-and-black coffin surrounded by flowers. Later, the family goes back to YaYa's for another celebration of the man they loved. For NPR News, I'm Jess Clark in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALSOGOOD'S "GO OUTSIDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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