In This Episode
- A white gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on Saturday at a grocery store in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. Local authorities and the FBI are investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime.
- On Saturday, thousands of people across the U.S. took to the streets to protest the leaked SCOTUS opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. More than 450 “Bans Off Our Bodies” marches happened around the country, and we hear from demonstrators who showed up in Los Angeles to support abortion rights.
- And in headlines: a Russian judge said WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain in custody for at least another month, Finland and Sweden will apply for NATO membership, and the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
- Tell us how the end of Roe would affect you – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to abortion funds, take action and more via Vote Save America – votesaveamerica.com/roe
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, May 16th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where with the release of a new Kendrick Lamar album we can almost pretend like it is five years ago.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I’m not even sure a new Kendrick album can make things better. I need something with a little bit more power. Where’s Rihanna’s album?
Priyanka Aribindi: Where’s Beyoncé? We need her. Save us. We need you now.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, we hear from some demonstrators during last Saturday’s nationwide rallies for abortion access. Plus, Ukraine is the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the latest on a mass shooting in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, where ten people were killed on Saturday.
[clip of Shonnell Harris] I got nightmares [unclear]. I got dreams, but I know it’s not dreams but it just–
[clip of Tim Newkirk] Something you dream about but you never experience. You know, you see it–
[Shonnell Harris] Yes. Like you see this on TV, you hear about it on TV–
[Tim Newkirk] You see this on TV but the reality of it–
[Shonnell Harris] You don’t ever think, like the schools and things like that, but you never, I never thought I would be one of them.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was the voice of Shonnell Harris and her brother, Tim Newkirk, speaking to the Buffalo News on Saturday. Harris and her daughter work at the grocery store Topps in a historically Black neighborhood that was targeted by a white gunman. He killed ten people and injured another three. At least four of the dead were killed in the parking lot. And several other bodies lead officials to believe they were killed while trying to hide near cash register lines. Of the total 13 people shot, 11 of them were Black and two white. The shooting is being investigated by local authorities and the FBI, quote, “both as a hate crime and racially-motivated violent extremism.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, just really horrifying. Obviously, it’s still early, but what do we know about how racism might have contributed to this shooting?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So according to reports, the 18-year old gunman is yet another white supremacist who has, quote, “racial animosity” towards Black folks. His name is out there in other reports, but we onward will not name him so that we do not give him that notoriety or recognition. Police arrested him shortly after the shooting following a brief standoff in front of the store. A government official told the Buffalo News that the semi-automatic gun the shooter used had the N-word spelled out in white paint on the barrel, and also the number 14. That number apparently refers to a 14-word statement popular among white supremacists and their terrorist groups. But the gunman was very intentional about the shooting, driving more than 3 hours from his small town in New York State–in his parents car, by the way–and he livestreamed the attack on social media. There’s also a 180-page manifesto floating on social media, supposedly, though not yet confirmed to be, written by the gunman that says he was radicalized online but did not start planning the attack until he saw his fellow domestic terrorists storm the Capitol back in January. We also know that the gunman has been investigated previously by law enforcement. Last year, police were called to his high school because he made comments indicating that he wanted to do a shooting around the time of graduation. At the time, he was referred for a mental health evaluation and counseling. It is also at this point in the story that I think it is important to note that in the event that a person is indeed navigating various psychological challenges, right, that is not an excuse for white supremacy or murder.
Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly not.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which is exactly what this gunman is being charged with, first degree murder. And if found guilty, he’ll face a life sentence in prison with no possibility for parole.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, what an absolutely horrific combination of so many different things that are going wrong in this country. I want to take a second and ask you about the victims. Do we have any details about who these people were?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, all these people who were killed were a mixture of folks just minding their business, running Saturday errands, and four employees working their job at the grocery store. At the time of our recording Sunday night, info about all ten who were killed was not available but they do include Ruth Whitfield, who was an 88-year old mother of four and grandmother of eight who sang in the choir of Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, where she’d been a member for over 50 years. She was also the caretaker of her husband, who lives in a nursing home. There was also Roberta Drury, a 32-year old who just popped into Topps Grocery Store to get ingredients to make dinner that night. There was also Celestine Cheney, a 65-year old single mother of one and granny to eight, who worked for a suit manufacturer and made baseball caps before retiring. She was shopping with her sister for strawberries to make shortcakes that night. While her sister was able to hide inside of a freezer, cheney, who had difficulty walking, let alone running, was killed. And then the last name we know at this time is Aaron Salter. The 55-year old retired officer from the Buffalo Police Department who worked as the store’s security guard. He was killed while exchanging fire with the gunman as he entered the store and is being described as a hero. We obviously will keep following this story and update you all as more information is released.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, and thank you for all of those details about the victims. It really just illustrates how normal and everyday these people were, just, you know, picking up stuff for dinner or stuff for dessert. That’s horrifying that that would happen to them. And Tre’vell, one more story that was developing as we went to record this. Tell us what we know so far about another mass shooting that took place in Southern California.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So Sunday afternoon in the city of Laguna Woods, a gunman opened fire in a church on a Taiwanese congregation. There were over 30 people inside and one person was killed and five others wounded. The parishioners were able to subdue the gunman, an Asian man in his 60s, before handing him over to police. As of Sunday night at 9:30 Eastern, details about the gunman’s motives remain unclear, but authorities say he does not live in the area. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the Laguna Woods attack is the 200th mass shooting this year alone in the U.S. With just over 19 weeks into 2022, this averages out to about ten mass shootings a week.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we haven’t even had 200 days this year, which should be incredibly telling if all of this hasn’t been. But turning to some other news, it has been almost two weeks since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade was leaked. And over the weekend, thousands of people mobilized and took to the streets to protest the opinion and to show their support for abortion rights. Over 450 Bans Off Our Bodies marches were scheduled for Saturday all across the U.S. They took place everywhere from major cities to smaller towns, and brought out people of all ages, genders, and races from so many different walks of life. Two of our amazing producers, Jazzi and Raven, went to the rally in Los Angeles on Saturday to capture the sights, sounds, and emotions of demonstrators who were there. Here is some of what they heard:
[voice] I am here marching for my granddaughters–sorry if I get emotional. Oh, my God. I ca– I just feel like we’re going back in time, and this would be devastating for my granddaughters.
[woman] My mom and my grandparents fought for this, and I just think that if they’re going to try to take that right away from me, that I should try too.
[male] You know, I have a six-year old daughter here who may someday herself want an abortion, and I want her to have that right.
[speaker] More genders than just women need abortions, including gender-expansive and trans men so we want to show up for all people who need abortions.
[speaker 2] I’m a family physician, and it really concerns me about the safety and health of my patients that if Roe v Wade is overturned, that it will result in unnecessary deaths and harm.
[speaker 3] I’m here today as a postpartum depression survivor who wants better opportunities and better access for my Black daughter to care, whatever that care looks like for them.
[voice 2] I don’t love abortion. I don’t think that’s a great thing, but the idea that the government should be in the doctor’s office with me and my doctor deciding what’s going on is not okay.
[voice 3] I’m here today because a long time ago, a friend of mine nearly died from a botched abortion. I rushed there and had to rush her immediately to the hospital, where I, if not, she would have died. So I’m here to make sure that that doesn’t happen to anybody else.
[voice 4] I think this is a much bigger issue even than just ROE.
[voice 5] The potential of not being able to marry the wife of my dreams, potentially not having access to birth control if I’m raped.
[male 2] What could happen to all other groups that gained some rights in the past 50 years, and if this is a precedent, this is horrible.
[voice 6] I have been marching for women’s rights to health care and abortion since the ’80s, and I’m really tired of this, which is why my sign says “Enough is enough.”
[male 3] More people show up, the more that our voice is heard. Hopefully the voice will get louder, and so bullshit like this doesn’t keep happening.
[voice 7] As my sign says, I’d rather be doing all these things. I’d rather be going to farmer’s market, masturbating, taking a nap–but we’re here. We won’t stop.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. That was really incredible. I could listen to hours of that. And for those of you who attended, hope you had that experience as well. So many different types of people, so many different reasons for people being out there. But that was really incredible. Those were protesters from the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in L.A. on Saturday. Thank you so much to our producers Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto for their work, bringing us these stories from the ground.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I got goose bumps listening to the chanting and hearing the many different super-inclusive stories and approaches to this particular issue. Shout out to Jazzi and Raven again for pulling that together. We’ve also been hearing from you, our listeners, about how important Roe is to you and the people you love. Here’s what one person told us:
[listener message] Hi, WAD squad. This is Rachel. I’m an American living in Spain. I have three daughters who were all born here in Spain. For years, I wanted to move back to the States with my kids, and it shocks me that I live in a, what is essentially a very Catholic country, but it’s far easier to obtain an abortion here than it is in the U.S.. I can’t let them grow up in the States. It’s not safe for them. And I want them to grow up with the rights of bodily autonomy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Wow. I don’t, I don’t even know what to say to that. She’s completely right. She’s completely right. We want to continue hearing from all of you about this. If you’d like to share, you can record a voice memo using your phone or a computer and then email us that audio. Our email address is WAD @ Crooked dot com. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian courtroom on Friday for a pretrial hearing, the first time she’s been seen in public since March. A judge there said she’ll remain in detention for at least another month. Griner, a queer woman of color, has been detained in Russia since February after airport authorities allegedly found cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. U.S. officials have maintained that Griner was wrongfully imprisoned and must be released, but Russian authorities claim she committed a criminal offense. If the basketball star is convicted of drug possession charges, she could be in prison for up to ten years. A spokesperson for Griner said she is doing, quote, “as well as can be expected during exceedingly difficult circumstances.” During the pretrial, videos and pictures showed her in an orange hoodie trying to keep her face down. Graner’s lawyer told the Associated Press that she is likely to go to trial soon.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m holding out hope for her to make it home safely as soon as possible, but this is really looking difficult. Leaders from Finland and Sweden officially confirmed yesterday that their countries will apply for NATO membership. This comes just days after we reported that Finland officials said they would submit a membership bid, quote, “without delay.” If both Nordic countries are accepted into NATO as they are expected to be, it would be a major break from their decades-long history of what’s called military non-alignment. Adding Finland and Sweden to NATO would also expand the alliance’s reach along Russia’s western border. NATO leaders said on Sunday that they plan to fast track both countries membership bids, but the transition to make them full members will take time. This all comes as Russian forces appear to have endured significant setbacks in Ukraine in recent days. According to the British military, russia has lost about one third of its ground combat forces deployed to the country, and Russia’s attack in the eastern region of Ukraine has, quote, “lost momentum.” Russian forces have also reportedly withdrawn from Kharkiv after clashing with Ukrainian soldiers, but civilians in the city’s frontline villages remain at risk.
Tre’vell Anderson: And in some positive Ukrainian news, as expertly predicted by the WAD team last week, Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra was crowned the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. The group was widely considered to be the fan favorite going into the grand finale among its fellow competitors from the United Kingdom, Spain, and Sweden. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent the group a message of support ahead of their winning performance. Here’s Kalush Orchestra’s lead singer Oleg Psyuk, accepting the award for first place in Turin, Italy:
[clip of Oleg Psyuk] Thank you so much! Thank you for supporting Ukraine! This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukrienya!
Tre’vell Anderson: Aw. The winning song, Stefania, was originally dedicated to Psyuk’s mother, but has since become a war anthem for the country that is often called Mother Ukraine by its people. On Sunday, Kalush Orchestra released a music video for the song featuring scenes of Ukrainian soldiers carrying crying children through war zones to reunite them with their parents. In the video’s caption, the band wrote, quote, “If Stefania is now the anthem of our war, I would like it to become the anthem of our victory.”
Priyanka Aribindi: So before hearing this and our kind of, reporting on Eurovision Song Contest, I didn’t know how big of a deal it was, but I mean, if Volodymyr Zelenskyy is out here recording them a congrats message like, clearly this is a really big deal and I’m happy to now finally be read into what is going on. I feel like I am caught up every single day by being on WAD. And finally, we have an update on the aspiring meme-lord turned richest man on the planet and his plans for world domination: multi-billionaire Elon Musk tweeted late last week that he would be putting his deal with Twitter on hold while he waited for support on the social media company’s claim that less than 5% of accounts on the platform are spam or bot accounts. Musk has stated previously that removing spam and bot accounts would be a top priority upon acquiring the company. The announcement, which Musk posted to-you guessed it–Twitter.com, was reportedly a shock to investors, sending the company’s stock tumbling more than 9%. While this is a mere hiccup among many in the whopping $44-billion deal that Musk is working on to purchase Twitter, it remains unclear if he would walk away from the process entirely. Hours after tweeting about the holes, he followed up saying, “Still committed to acquisition”–all right, then. Moreover, Musk would contractually owe the company $1 billion if he actually withdrew–so, there you have it. Though, if one thing is clear, it’s that we will never get back the hours and days spent wondering about when and how and why it would or wouldn’t happen. For now, spam and bot accounts on Twitter can hug their spam children and bot wives a little tighter tonight, today you can all rest safely.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m still stuck on the fact that he’s actually buying Twitter. Like, I’m still two weeks ago when we were like, What!?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You know, we had a segment on this show, WAD Money, if you remember–one of our best–where Gideon and I talked about what to do with Twitter. And if you took my advice, though I have no certifications to offer financial advice of any kind, you would have saved yourself about 9% of your investment. So I hope you did. Just wanted to say that.
Tre’vell Anderson: This is why you listen to What A Day.
Priyanka Aribindi: You get the odd stock tips!
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, bump Stefanie at an 11, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just Elon and Twitter will-they won’t-they fanfiction like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[together] And let’s party like it’s 2017!
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know, 2017 was like kind of a fucking bleak year. Like, that was a bad time. I don’t know if we want to go back. Do you remember? It was like–
Tre’vell Anderson: It was not the best.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, it really wasn’t.
Tre’vell Anderson: It was better than today, though, you know, if we’re being honest.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, anything is better than today.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.