Shaun King: What We Know About The Waffle House Shooting


I’m angry today.

James Baldwin once said “that to be Black and conscious in America is to walk around in a constant state of rage.” And I get that. That’s why I’m glad our morning show is full of laughs and jokes and comedians. Because we have to somehow try our best to balance out all of the ugliness and foolishness we deal with on a daily basis in this country.

This weekend – armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, which is a weapon of war, created for soldiers of war, walked into a Waffle House in the middle of a community of color in Nashville, and began unloading his weapon on the beautiful men and women working and dining there in the restaurant. As you no-doubt have seen or heard, the gunman was then bravely confronted and stopped by a young brother named James Shaw, who literally burned his hand by grabbing the scorching hot muzzle of the gun, snatching it from the gunman, then forcing him out of the store.

But I need us to talk about four disturbing aspects of this gunman that really aren’t getting mainstream press attention.

First, the man was known by the FBI and literally trespassed onto White House property previously. He had an arsenal of weapons at home even when that took place. Now imagine a Muslim man with an arsenal of weapons trespassed onto White House property. He wouldn’t be alive to talk about it. And if he somehow survived, he damn sure wouldn’t still have weapons of war to commit a mass shooting.

Secondly, a young Black mother from Nashville wrote me yesterday to tell me that she actually had a horrible encounter with the gunman just four days before the shooting at a local Publix grocery store. She said he literally walked right into the store and began shouting racial slurs and violent threats all over the store. And she told me she kept waiting for management to intervene or for someone to call the police – and it never happened. She literally took her baby and ran out of the store to get away from him.

Now let’s juxtapose that up against how Starbucks and local police treated the two young men in Philly or how another Waffle House in Alabama and the local police treated a young woman this weekend when they ripped her clothes off and arrested her. Or maybe you heard about a golf course owner who called the police own a group of Black women on the course because they said they were going to slow.

Yet nobody called the police on the Waffle House shooter days before he committed a horrible act of violence.

Then two things yesterday that have my blood boiling.

First, as we expected, as it always happens, the shooter was arrested without incident, not a single scratch or bruise on his face. And he was actually armed when they arrested him.

Now listen – I’m not wishing that police shot & killed this man. But I am angry that American police seem fully capable and willing to find a way to peacefully arrest armed white men who’ve slaughtered scores of people, but almost daily tell us that they had to shoot and kill unarmed black men and women, who never killed a soul, because they feared for their lives.

Lastly, as I woke up this morning, and you’ll see this on my social media timeline right now, I saw the news that the judge in this case has actually given the shooter a $2 million bond.

I kid you not, the shooter could be free and out of jail later this week. Never in my life have a I seen a mass shooter be given a bond so low. Typically you only have to pay 10% of that. That’s $200,000. His family get sell a home bail him out shortly.

This man was known by the FBI, committed a mass shooting, then eluded police for days, was arrested with weapons, and still gets a shot at an affordable bail?

It’s a horrible insult to the victims of his crimes and I’ll close with this thought.

If this man was anything other than white – if he was a Muslim, or an immigrant, or any person of color – that bond wouldn’t be so low. Not only that, but I’m convinced that had he killed white people – or just one white person – they wouldn’t have done this. But it was four people of color he killed – including a brilliant young sister, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, who was just days away from graduating college.

As Kanye West, like a damn fool, from his mansion in Calabasas, says we are imagining oppression in this country, Black people continue to catch hell, and white men continue to catch a break.



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