Banko Brown walgreen's shooting San Francisco
Security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony approaches Banko Brown, in white, moments before shooting him dead on April 27.

“Dystopia” doesn’t auto-fill when you Google “San Francisco,” but give it time. It’s only Wednesday. 

Platoons of international journalists did not swoop in to cover the April 27 shooting of Banko Brown at a downtown Walgreens, as they had for the April 4 killing of Bob Lee — which was not, in the end, a story of dystopian San Francisco street conditions but a rather Floridian tale, complete with high-rise condos, convertibles, plastic surgery, clandestine sex and high-end drug use by the ultra-wealthy. 

The notion of an unarmed homeless man being shot by a downtown Walgreens security guard in the aftermath of an alleged shoplifting attempt gone bad has remained largely a municipal obsession. 

We’ll have to savor this bit of fetid dystopia for ourselves. Because this, truly, was dystopian. 

When homicide investigators informed Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, at the tail end of his lengthy interview that Brown — the man he’d shot — was dead, the 33-year-old Walgreens security guard grew apoplectic. 

“I can’t believe [he] died! I can’t believe that! I never wanted to end no fucking life at all! I’m sorry,” he wailed through tears. “I just threw my whole fucking life away, man. I did not know. I swear. I was trying to protect myself.” 

Anthony, in short order, breaks down: 

Oh man! Why?! (Wailing). (Crying harder) I just wanna … why my whole fucking life has been shitty, man! I’m trying to do the best I can, I swear to God, man. (sobbing) I went from homeless to fucking finding a nice woman that I wanted to marry. That didn’t work out. (sighs) I’ve been homeless so many fucking … so long as a child … and now … I’m getting fucked! Oh God, help me, please!

And that’s what makes this all so sickeningly dystopian: This was two marginalized Black men pitted against one another — with one killing the other — in a confrontation sparked by $14.64 worth of snacks from Walgreens. This lethal battle was waged in the name of protecting the assets of a corporation that, cynically, used San Francisco’s dystopian reputation as a pretense to carry out long-planned cost-cutting store closures

You may recall the viral video of a bicycle-borne shoplifter, which helped to pedal the successful recall of DA Chesa Boudin. You likely watched that video and read stories about rampant retail theft, which Walgreens’ CFO now quips the company “cried too much” about.

You saw many articles about bad behavior in Walgreens. You probably didn’t see any articles about bad behavior by Walgreens, which recently settled a lawsuit with thousands of its shortchanged California employees, and agreed to pay out millions

To add an apocalyptic cherry to the dystopian sundae, the city, last year, won a lawsuit vs. Walgreens for its part in fueling the opioid epidemic, leading to bodies stacking up outside the store where Anthony and Brown clashed — and, certainly, desperate people shambling about within it. A $230 million settlement with the city of San Francisco was announced today.

A memorial for Banko Brown, and a sign of dystopia in SF.
A memorial for Banko Brown erected on Market Street. Photo by Robert B. Livingston

Astoundingly, this gets even bleaker. In his interview with San Francisco detectives, Anthony notes that he was carrying two handguns and seven magazines — enough for a drugstore siege — but no pepper spray, cuffs or baton.

Anthony’s employer, Kingdom Group Protective Services, he told police, didn’t provide him any equipment more than a t-shirt (he told investigators that he was permitted to carry a Taser, but would’ve had to “invest” in his own). Kingdom put him into contact with the public in a shoplifting-heavy venue as a “robbery suppression officer,” either not knowing or not caring — or both — that he had guns and ammo but no less-lethal weapons. And not only was Anthony sent out to do “robbery suppression,” he and his fellow guards were, just prior to the shooting, instructed to physically stop shoplifters — in Anthony’s words, a shift to “a hands-on policy.”  

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins declined to file charges in this killing. But the combustible situation created by Anthony’s employers leading up to his killing of Brown will certainly be of great interest to civil rights attorney John Burris, who is working for Brown’s family. 

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins speaks into a microphone.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins speaking at Sen. Scott Wiener’s pumpkin carving event, October ,2022. Photo from Shutterstock.

In an interview with the police, Anthony recounted a series of unfortunate events: His pepper spray was confiscated three years ago by authorities who suspected he was impersonating a security guard, and he never restocked it (pepper spray retails for less than $20); a gun was confiscated by cops who mistook his guard uniform for a Halloween costume; he failed to bring his baton to work on April 27, because his car had recently been stolen; he had a marriage he describes as both a separation and a divorce.

One of his brothers was shot by Oakland cops (he says Burris handled the case) and another was ambushed and shot seven times. There was a lot going on. And then this.  

But help would come for Anthony, though not from God. Not unless Jenkins is channeling the almighty. But more on that in a moment. 

No help would come for Brown. He, too, would’ve had every right to complain about life. A Black trans man, he struggled mightily with poverty and homelessness; he purportedly bedded down on trains and slept out on the street, unable to ascend the wall of city bureaucracy required to obtain city housing. 

It warrants taking another moment to dwell on all this, and reflect upon who was pitted against whom in a lethal confrontation over 15 bucks worth of a cynical, multi-billion-dollar corporation’s assets.

Screenshot from the Walgreens security footage. SF becomes a dystopia.
Screenshot from the security footage showing Walgreens guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony grappling with Banko Brown.

And, while Anthony’s recorded interview with homicide investigators is painful to watch and read, it doesn’t alter the fact that he pulled the trigger and killed an unarmed man who was backpedaling out of the store and onto Market Street. And there are problems with Anthony’s claims. He says he never punched Brown, when video reveals he clearly did. He said Brown advanced on him, when it’s he who is advancing on Brown. 

The crucial element in Jenkins’ dismissal of this case was Anthony’s claim that Brown repeatedly threatened to stab him, putting Anthony in a situation where he was in “mortal fear” and acted out of “self-defense.” 

Nobody else on-scene was able to corroborate this allegation, though they did hear Brown yelling other, less directed things (“let me go, I’ll fight you one-on-one”). Only Anthony, the man whose entire life would be thrown away if he didn’t have a justification for shooting an unarmed man, heard and reported these threats. 

So, that’s confusing. As Brown’s stepmother asked, why would Anthony let Banko Brown off the ground if he legitimately felt in fear of his life, and worried he’d be stabbed? And why, having done that — and armed with two pistols and seven magazines — wouldn’t he walk a good, long distance from Brown instead of hovering within arm’s reach? 

After releasing Brown, Anthony moves closer and closer to Brown, up to the moment he plants himself to fire his single, lethal shot. 

Jenkins ,on May 1, announced that the evidence in this case “clearly” showed self-defense — pulling the rug out from under Brown’s family, with whom she’d met that very day, and hampering any future prosecution by her office (or any other). She formally declined to file charges on May 15. 

And, while hurling Anthony into prison to rot for years on end is probably not the most enlightened outcome, neither is concluding nothing was awry here, and perpetuating the status quo of loosely regulated, put-upon armed guards being placed in ever more combustible situations to preserve corporate assets. 

But that’s the state of affairs in San Francisco. And that’s dystopian. 

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. despite the writer’s race bating to sensationalize contention, this is not a “two black men” issue… it is an issue of rampant unchecked criminality, and the inability and unwillingness of SF politicians and populous to address it, to the detriment of the low income, elderly, transportation challenged, disabled who are primarily so-called “people of color”, and the most vulnerable of the city. as this case amply shows, it harms the criminally minded as well as the innocent. diverting blame to walgreens, the race card, or anyone else is wrong and irresponsible.

  2. Terrible article. Trying to blame Walgreens for the rampant theft and deterioration of San Francisco.

  3. Beyond the SF Dystopia of a fight to the death over Walgreens snacks and sundries by two Black men is the dystopic reality that the empowered faces in this saga are Black and include a Black DA…a Black police chief…a Black Defense lawyer…and a Black Mayor whose brother is rotting behind bars charged with grand theft robbery and manslaughter! When is this Big Black dystopic movie coming to the Big Screen?

    1. This was no movie. It was as much a tragedy as the greatest ones since those we remember from Greek antiquity .

      No one wins here– unless people are willing to set aside their shallow prejudges and achieve unity through their class interest.

  4. Distorting the facts to serve an ideological narrative has become a blood sport in San Francisco and many other places across the country, both Red & Blue. Whether it’s Trump calling for the metaphoric lynching of the Central Park Five or the raging throngs who’ve declared open season on commercial retail & low wage security guards, it’s all equally cowardly & shameless. Meanwhile, none of us are made any safer by this virtue brouhaha of the week. A pox on all your houses

    1. why would you wish harm on others by saying a pox on their homes. thats the same bitterness that cause the type of dystopia in the story.

  5. I am of divided mind on this. On one side, the surveillance video which appeared to show no justification for the use of lethal force. It also did not appear that the security guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, attempted to employ any de-escalation methods including using the basics of creating time, distance and building rapport.

    At the point that the gun was fired, at one minute into the six minute video, both individuals were facing each other with arms raised. Banko Brown, was standing unarmed and being six inches shorter in height was not lunging, was not holding a weapon and did not appear to present a lethal threat to the security guard.

    No matter what verbal threats Banko may have made, there appears no justification for the use of deadly force.

    On the other side, after reading the 27 page transcript of the SFPD interview with the shooter, I tried to look at it from his perspective as someone who was spit on and repeatedly threatened with being stabbed.

    If I was on a jury sitting in judgement, I don’t know how I would vote. The video tells one story. The interview, another. Look at both.

  6. This case cries out for a restorative justice resolution.
    A creative and courageous prosecutor would have thought of that.
    Brooke Jenkins’ declarative statement in support of Mr. Anthony’s allegedly perfect self-defense blithely dismisses the harm caused to Banko Brown’s family & friends and to the community at large.
    But it also denies Mr. Anthony a chance to restore the community he has harmed or to find a path, through giving back, for his own redemption. Truly tragic. And dystopian.

  7. thank you for untangling the real threads of this story and backstory.
    i agree with your sentiments that throwing away Anthony’s life for years on end isn’t ‘enlightened’ (or helpful to anyone), though he should definitely serve time. just as importantly, his employers should be held liable! as a guard, given a t-shirt and nothing else? and left to ‘suppress robberies’ with no training or guidance? this whole situation is sickening and heartbreaking in every way.

  8. I’m confused. Kingdom didn’t supply him with anything more than a T-shirt? Where did he get the gun? Later u say that Kingdom didn’t know or care that he had a gun?? Again- where did he get a gun?
    In general I appreciate your POV but want to know who armed him. What agency has to approve a security guard being armed? Any.

  9. As usual joe nailed it. I’m really torn here. Two people who suffered way too much trauma met and one traumatized man shot and killed another.
    What makes me mad is that I watched that video and saw a traumatized man get angry and use power over a weaker traumatized man and I didn’t see “reasonable” self-defense.
    But I think that a jury should have decided that. And heard from Anthony directly end the other witnesses.
    Based solely on the fact that I represent clients charged by this DA’s office with stronger self-defense claims than this pendejo.
    And I sympathize with Anthony and what he has been through.
    The standard for prosecution by this DA’a office has no rhyme or reason.
    They don’t charge “some people” if there’s even the slightest chance they won’t get a conviction, or even a hang? Those “some people” usually are cops, white people, or people with power, influence or wealth. Other people get charged even though there’s no way in hell they will get a conviction because there’s no downside and no one who matters will complain and be heard.
    But this Walgreens dude. He’s not rich, he’s not white, and he’s not powerful. So why is he special?
    Maybe because it benefits our opportunistic snake of a DA to feed the narrative of a failed city where insured corporate businesses are protected from losing $14 to shoplifting by hiring armed guards who won’t be held to the same standard as my clients who are often the most marginalized of San Franciscans, the Banko Browns this DA wishes would disappear from the city and stop burdening those tech bros and old SF money like the Bob Lees and the Don Carmignanis of the city…
    That’s the nuance here. The tragedy and the injustice all around. The dishonesty and opportunism of DA BJ.

    1. Anthony was marginalized, but he was obliquely defending the ruling class and corporate interests. If he’d just been some dude who had had an altercation with Banko at the front of the store, the stabbing threat would have been met with an eye roll.

  10. I’m so conflicted. I am so enraged that Banko was killed. I saw the video and I don’t see him as threatening but backing out of the store. My African American son worked security for years in this city, the one thing, whether he agreed or not, was not to follow anyone out of the location he was securing. If the culprit got passed him, and outside the premises, he could call the police, or the company could document the loss. It was never the loss of anyone’s life.
    In the meantime, I understand the situation Anthony finds himself in. Even if he is never charged, and I know he will always have difficulty knowing what he’s done, I’m confident that he never intended to kill anyone, but the reason why he was armed, is another question. How did the company that employed him expect him to defend himself in an adversarial situation? Did Walgreens’ know he was armed with a gun? Did they care? The entire situation is tragic and wrong. Does this case, in actuality, have ‘racial’ connotations? What if Banko were White, and Anthony, still Black; would the DA’s decision not to prosecute be the same? Would the Asian community leader, who agreed with the DA’s decision so fast, be so agreeable had Banko been Asian? If anyone believes that ‘Race’ does not play a part in this scenario, they are wrong.
    Unfortunately, wrong is simply wrong and I hope the San Francisco Supervisors will agree to have the State look further into how all this is being handled.

    1. Why do you feel the need to pull the “what if they were a different race” speculation card?? This is a stupid ignorant trend that needs to stop. What if pigs fly? What if he’ll freezes over? What if the moon crashed into earth? What if the world is flat? What if California falls into the sea? WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF YOU STOP WHAT IFFING EVERYTHING?! Just stop. Go get some Barbies & play what if with your children because the WHAT IF GAME IS BEYOND CHILDISH & A WASTE OF TIME & ENERGY. STOP IT.

    2. You’re “confident that he never intended to kill anyone”? But he carried two guns and seven magazines. What do you think they were for? “Did Walgreens’ know he was armed with a gun?” Have you been in a Walgreen’s? I’ve seen their guards armed with guns for a couple of years, in SF and in Oakland. I read the justifications for this and it’s difficult to imagine people thinking like this. SF has so many billionaires and so many poor people; do you think those billionaires got their money by hard work? Do you think all those poor people are just lazy? Banko Brown spent a lot of time organizing – for free. He made a bad choice, as all of have. I have no sympathy for Anthony. He followed Banko, drew his gun, pointed it at Banko’s chest, and fired. All his prior tribulations vanished in that instant. That was not a shoplifting mistake; it was a murder mistake. And I have a hard time with his prior tribulations when he made a choice to arm himself with two guns and seven magazines. His homicidal fantasy came to life, and due to the twisted values of too many, he will likely get away with it. Just like the cops do.

  11. Thanks Joe. Figured you would add more facts to the story. You’re the best reporter in the city at this point.

  12. I arrived at this crowded scene shortly after Banko Brown was shot. Banko was laying on the ground being attended to by two individuals. It was unclear what had just happened or whether Banko was dying or injured. Seeing this was upsetting. Adding to my upset was the behavior of the crowd – many people 8, 10, 15 were stepping close to Banko to take photographs. I walked into Walgreen’s and asked the manager where the rear exit was. She said “Good idea,” and used the PA to ask customers to leave by the rear exit. I am still upset at this random act of violence and at Walgreen’s indifference to how dangerous this store is. The triangulation of this dysfunction is a marginalized Black man shoots a marginalized, homeless, unarmed Black man who later dies, and a Black District Attorney refuses to prosecute. I hope the family sues the DA, and Walgreen’s.

  13. Thanks for another read, Joe-Who-Never-Left. Always gotta take a deep breath before diving into your work. ‘Preciate it.

    Yeah, the dystopian thing. Climbing into the realm of fantasy for a second. . .

    It’s hard for me not to see the rictus of a President Coriolanus Snow grinning from the shadows. The mayor and her attorney, though devious and “smart” enough to play politics and money games, aren’t, on their own, intelligent enough for that role, imo. $adistic puppet master(s) at work; or just more accumulation of history’s little lessons? Bumfuzzled as hell trying to reasonably sort that shit out.

    In any event, it’s a major bummer-drag seeing this playing out in SF. Looks to be a long haul towards the needed intelligent and compassionate policies and actions needed in the City.

  14. This is exactly how I felt. Just sad that one black man was set up to kill another black man. Can we not do better than this with petty theft. Seems like what Safeway did with barriers made it harder to come in and dash out which maybe would have prevented such a bad set of circumstances here.

  15. Lots of yapping from Senator Weiner, but yet nothing of value moving forward in how to avoid this, no actions taken to ensure it won’t happen again, no plan at all.

    Just thoughts and prayers.

    A hot bed for repeat offenses.

    We expect solutions from our leaders, not just apologies.

    Let’s learn from this so that it doesn’t happen anymore.

  16. Joe, these men were not fighting over a bag of Cheetos, they were fighting for their honor as men. It’s never about the trigger, it’s always about the ammunition. Ask Michael Mann.

  17. Thank you for writing this. It’s the most insightful piece I’ve read to date on this sad and tragic case.

  18. Banko Brown was left the store why did the security followed him and shot him. That’s not right. Once Brown left the store it’s the security gate fault.

  19. Joe, with all due respect I don’t understand why you’re calling these two people “marginalized”. I’m guessing it is just for sensationalism and a catchy headline in the paper.

    Please explain how they were ‘marginalized’ , and who ‘marginalized’ them?

    Are you saying that white people made these two black people fight because they knew one of them would die? Your assumption makes no sense, just like mine above didn’t.

    1. Mike — 

      You think “marginalized” is a catchy headline word?

      Do I need to explain to you why a homeless trans man and a man who had experienced homelessness and had not one but two brothers get shot have been “marginalized” by society?

      I don’t understand the rest of your comment, but I think we’re done here.



  20. Thanks for writing this — it is so important to contextualize the killing within the broader sensationalizing of retail theft that led to armed guards and the perverse sense among many Californians that shoplifters deserve whatever happens to them. It is dystopian that this killing occurred and that we believe we are left with only two options: punish Anthony or do nothing (i.e., it is acceptable for armed guards to physically confront shoplifters and use armed force). This should’ve instead been a wakeup call for SF residents that we have allowed outrage over theft to swallow up any empathy we had left, and that we need to seriously scale back our forceful and punitive responses to poverty.

  21. Coda to the dystopia was the dominance of nonprofity types at the Justice For Banko demonstration this morning at 350 Rhode Island. I stood at the rear of the demo in solidarity.

    Laments at racialized and anti-trans physical and economic violence invariably boiled down to demands for more money for services. The fact that Brown was unarmed and in retreat barely figured even though that’s the legal angle. That’s the popular, broad appeal that dislodges Jenkins.

    The the most audacious was the Prez of the Rose Pak Democrat club lamenting the fruits of her decades of handiwork and casting blame elsewhere. When can we finally rename Chinatown Station “Bruce Lee Station?”

    Honey Mahogany likewise steered this into her wheelhouse, lamenting attacks on LGBTQIA+ communities. The backlash is against top-down trans overreach on broadly appalling agenda items supported by most mainstream conservative institutions, not lesbians and gays who just got same sex marriage through a tediously gridlocked Senate. There’s no evidence of transphobia in this case, just trans poverty.

    One person passing out copies of the Bayview newspaper took pains to avoid handing me a copy, even though I first met Willie Ratcliff like 25 yr ago and he offered up the most sage aphorism I’d ever been gifted in SF politics: “It is not about progressive/moderate, it is all about the contracting.”

    Far be it for this cis white gay male of a certain age and class to call the shots for people facing it worse than I. My take, having studied and observed resistance movements around the world over time, in solidarity and love, is that the nonprofits exist to inhibit a Black Panther-style ten point plan with chapters to organize independently, including outside of the comfort zone, to make structural change happen. If the South Africans could win facing those challenges, anyone can.

    Anything else is a prescription for endless skirmishes from increasingly weakened positions with nonprofits cashing checks as more and more people suffer.

  22. What’s dystopian to me is that we are now living in a city where a citizen thinks it’s OK to:
    –Brazenly steal from a retail store
    –When confronted by an armed guard, try to push their way out of the store
    –After getting beat down by the security guard, arguing and threatening the guard
    –After the guard pulls his gun, squaring off with the guard and taking a aggressive posture and (allegedly) spitting on the guard

    And after all that we have articles like this one that spout a bunch of whatbout-isms on the ills of Walgreen’s. Did Banko deserve to die? Of course not. Would any of this have happened if not for Banko’s actions? Of course not.

    1. “we are now living in a city where a citizen thinks it’s OK to:–Brazenly steal from a retail store”. Really? How long have you been on the planet? I have been around for more years than I would like to count and here’s a secret for you: shoplifting has been around all this time and I suspect long before. My daughters both shoplifted 20 years ago when they were in middle school (for which they got justly punished — not killed) as did a number of their friends. And despite Joe adding helpful links, the belief that Walgreens has been getting shoplifted out of SF shows the power of propaganda, especially when the Chron prints such drivel as “Brown’s death presents a quandary for leaders in criminal justice.” What does that mean? What is the quandary? Who are “leaders” in criminal justice? As if Jenkins’ decision was driven by anything other than politics — Breed’s politics, and Jenkins’ embarrassing opportunism (btw, what actual work did she do when she got paid $100,000 to trash Boudin?). But wait. What about poor Walgreens? You mean the monopolistic corporation that successfully drove local small pharmacists out of SF and just paid SF $230 million for its role in the biggest drug problem this country has ever seen. This after the judge “ruled in August that the corporate pharmacy chain could be held responsible for much of the city’s severe opioid epidemic.”

      1. Mark, of course we all have stories of children who shoplift and learn their lesson. Taking my first bullet point out of context is just like the lazy reporters and activists who want to tell the fake narrative that this poor homeless black trans person was executed for stealing some candy. Which leaves out all the context of what really happened as we can see on the video and I outlined in my bullets. Somehow I doubt your shoplifting daughters tried to fight their way out of the store, threatened, spit on, and squared off with an armed security guard.

        Thanks for more whataboutism when it comes to Walgreens. Shoplifting has fueled a death spiral for many grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail establishments in the city. What’s dystopian is all of the store closures, reduced hours, and products behind plexiglass — caused in large part due to the shoplifting epidemic. Shoplifting at this scale has not “been around all this time” — just look at Target — they just reported that unlike last year where they took an $800M hit from shoplifting, this year they expect $1.3B — a $500M (63%) increase in just one year.

        1. “a death spiral”? No, a reduced profit spiral. There was only one death in that situation, and it was Banko Brown’s. There are a lot of wider issues implied in what happened, but one person came into that store poor and hungry, another came in angry and armed, and the second killed the first over basically nothing. “Concerned” says I make assumptions. OK, so tell me why someone comes to work with two guns and seven magazines. For revenge against those who traumatized his life? Or to kill shoplifters? Less metaphors and more common sense ethics, please.

    2. Thank you.
      I would just add that not enuf has been made of Anthony’s “ow naw” after being spat upon. I liken it to a “dissin'”, and I doubt the shooting would have happened if the two participants weren’t Black (and “marginalized”) – suffering from the Losing Face that fuels so much of the shootings in Black America. Thats not a happy story line, so we get the “shoplifting for ‘food'” or ‘homeless trans poverty’ and everyone can feel justifiably outraged, yet still unsatisfied.
      It is a dystopian situation – just not in the way Joe has portrayed it.

  23. The most dystopian part is the citywide Bystander Effect as the place slips into the abyss.
    SF has become so morally injured it qualifies for disability.

    1. David, the “bystander effect” achieved socio-psychological prominence after the murder on Kitty Genovese in New York City in 1964. As reported by the New York Times, and repeated ad nauseam, 38 people witnessed the murder and did nothing, especially did not call the cops. During the trial and subsequent investigations, it has been established that only 12 people actually heard or saw anything — a number of then shouted (and drove the killer away for some time) and at least two said they indeed called the cops. The man who said he did not call (not wholly true, he arranged the final call) because he “didn’t want to get involved” was not professing apathy but was gay and afraid of the cops coming to his apartment. He had reason. It was pre-Stonewall and it was not uncommon for cops to regularly humiliate, beat and arrest gays. When the cops did show up, they spent 6 hours interrogating, terrifying and humiliating Kitty’s roommate, accusing her of murder, etc. Both she and Kitty were gay. The entire story was made up by the Chief of Police at that time (Michael Murphy) and A.M. Rosenthal, managing editor of the Times who made his name on the case and even wrote a book called “38 Witnesses.” Very little reporting was done (other than to take what the cops said) and what was done was carried out by a rookie reporter eager to please his editor. It is a classic example of contemporary propaganda disguised as journalism (which was Rosenthal’s greatest skill). Similar, had the cops not caught Bob Lee’s killer, we would still be hearing every day that he was killed by San Francisco’s “unsafe streets” and there would probably by now be a Netflix series

  24. Denial phase.
    There was a time not too long ago where no security types were needed and merchandise was out on the shelves. Distinctly different from what we have today, locked cabinets. We let the social contract break and didn’t bother to care. And apparently that’s still the MO: Let’s look at the whataboutism here how Walgreens had been sued by the City last year. How the merchandise on the shelves were assets of a multi billion dollar corporation. Which BTW it is not. Who pays for the merch getting shoplifted every day? The Walgreens, CVSs, Safeways of the world? Hate to burst the bubble: They’ll see to it that they keep themselves whole. It is the people who go shopping there. Folks who often aren’t mobile for the big weekend haul at Costco’s or quickly snip an order on Amazon between lattes.
    We are at a point where we either get off our behinds and work effectively towards an environment that allows for stores to stick around, or just let time take its course and see them slip out of town. Nevermind how this would threaten a lot of people needing to fill prescriptions. (Side note: These $6mio that London Breed wants to spend on beautifying the cable car turnaround and Union Square? Window dressing)
    So let’s go on in denial and head straight towards more empty storefronts. We can have taxpayers supported mobile pharmacies, no? Why not, we already have mobile shower trailers and mobile libraries. All the good things they also got in West Virginia and all those places we like fashioning condescending views upon. But hey, we can always find something else to run out of town.

    1. Hear, hear! When we allow society to break down the way it has in SF this is the inevitable outcome. We’ve had robberies turn into stabbings, shootings, and murders very recently. Criminals need to learn SF is not the place to be any longer.

      1. After watching the interview and surveillance video I was left wondering if Anthony would be allowed to keep his weapons. Unless I’ve missed something there’s been no mention of that, perhaps because no charges filed means no change in any way for him except that he’ll always know he shot an unarmed individual who on camera is stepping away. Excellent article on a very tough subject.

    2. This is a good nuanced comment – the importance of the social contract merits so much more discussion and understanding. My question is: how do we effectively ‘get off our behinds’ and do a better job creating a better environment? I want to help the people who need it but without incentivizing bad behavior or allowing for a system with no boundaries. I am skeptical of corporations as much as the next person but to pin the blame on Walgreen’s exclusively doesn’t make sense to me (I am sure there is some blame they should take). I work in this area of the city and it is an unhealthy environment for business and people; more tragedies like this are bound to happen.

    3. There was a time not long ago where all the merchandise was kept behind the counter and the clerk went and got it for you. That model is expensive and now only done at auto parts stores.

      Now walgreens and cvs and target off shore security to you and I as tax payers to pay for police, prosecutors, jailers, probation officers, and public defenders.

      They can’t be bothered to hire people to attend the aisles of locked up merchandise, so they call the police every few days to have them ticket a shoplifter in hopes they get scared off.

      Spare me the tears for the pharmacy’s theft problem. It’s their plan, it saves them money to let people steal $14 worth of snacks.

      They don’t care what happens to the outsourced security or the customers.