A group of around 150 people crowded the steps of City Hall today in the fifth and largest demonstration by the friends and family of Banko Brown, the 24-year-old shot and killed by a Walgreens security guard on April 27.
The speakers reiterated a week-long demand: The district attorney must release video evidence of the shooting, which she has withheld even as multiple city supervisors and media outlets have called for the footage. On Sunday, Sen. Scott Wiener joined those calls, releasing a statement urging District Attorney Brooke Jenkins to make the video public.
“In recent days, a steady stream of information has become public regarding the shooting death of Banko Brown, resulting in significant public doubt about the security guard’s claim of self-defense,” the statement reads. “I am calling for evidence concerning Banko Brown’s death — including video and witness statements — to be released to the public.”
The group marched from Walgreens at 825 Market St., where Brown was shot, down Market Street to Civic Center, chanting the demand as they went along.
“If there’s nothing to hide, then release the tapes,” yelled Honey Mahogany, a 2022 District 6 supervisorial candidate who emphasized that San Francisco’s trans community continues to be disproportionately beleaguered by violence, poverty and homelessness. The crowd cheered in agreement, booing when Jenkins was named.
Brown, a Black trans man, was shot on April 27, after what police said was a shoplifting incident within the Walgreens store. The security guard who shot Brown, 33-year-old Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, was initially arrested by San Francisco police on suspicion of murder, but was released after spending a weekend in jail.
Jenkins said that Anthony “believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense” according to the evidence, and declined to press charges. Yet she has refused to release video of the shooting, saying the investigation is still open.
On Thursday, a man who said he witnessed the shooting and filmed its aftermath told Mission Local that the security guard had already ejected Brown from the Walgreens before returning outside and shooting him.
On May 9, Board President Aaron Peskin will introduce a resolution requesting the District Attorney’s Office make all video and witness evidence available to the public.
That demand was scrawled in chalk at the entrance to City Hall and the sidewalk along Polk Street on Sunday. At the foot of City Hall’s steps, Brown’s 4-year-old nephews and nieces, who spent many days cared for by their lost uncle, danced and did backflips as the family greeted everyone. At the top of the stairs, scores of protesters held signs, forming a human wall in front of the building.
“What makes this case deadly serious,” said Black Alliance for Peace member Jeremy Miller over the mic, “is if we do not respond appropriately to this lynching, we stand the risk of normalizing murder over loss prevention — murder over alleged theft from a retail establishment.”
“The problem is also of housing,” said Julia Arroyo after the rally. Arroyo was a close confidante of Brown’s and co-executive director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center.
If Brown had a home, she said, he wouldn’t have been at Walgreens looking for food. Arroyo stated that she was searching for housing for Brown every day in the weeks leading up to his killing, but nothing was coming through.
On the mic, Arroyo marveled at the crowd. She said it was “full circle” that so many supporters had marched for Brown, when he himself had marched for numerous causes.
Banko “always tried to think about all the other social justice movements that were happening. He organized over extended foster care services, lobbying Nancy Skinner. Free Palestine — he was there at that march. During the pandemic, he surveyed people on the street to collect data on the street to see what kinds of services young people needed.”
“He was just selfless,” said Arroyo.