Protests demand justice for trans organizer Banko Brown  

San Francisco

Despite the fact that recently released video footage clearly shows a Walgreens security guard tackling, beating up and then killing unarmed Black trans activist Banko Brown April 27, on busy Market Street in San Francisco, no charges will be filed. In fact, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office released a statement after viewing the video calling the shooting “reasonable.” (Guardian, May 15)

Banko Brown with Young Women’s Freedom Center Co-Executive Director Julia Arroyo. Credit: Young Women’s Freedom Center

Since Brown’s murder by the security guard, demonstrations have been organized in San Francisco and around California. Brown, 24 years old, was well-known in the local trans movement as an organizer who worked hard to support Black trans youth, despite his own recent struggles with homelessness.

Angered by Brown’s murder and by San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins’ early release of the Walgreens security guard from custody (three days after the shooting), along with her announcement that no charges would be filed, community activists attended a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting. They spoke out and demanded accountability for Banko’s murder.

DA Jenkins, who recently replaced former DA Chesa Boudin, ran on a law-and-order platform promising swift and severe punishment of shoplifters and others engaging in property crimes. Boudin was targeted in a right-wing recall, due to his unprecedented championing of the poor and his refusal to join the gentrifiers in filling the jails with poor people.

The Young Women’s Freedom Center has been consistently outspoken in its demand for justice for Brown. On Twitter, in a recorded statement, Co-Executive Director Julia Arroyo said, “You can’t take a Black life here. You can’t take a Black trans life here. Now you have to answer to us!” She went on to say, “We won’t stop until we hold Walgreens and the City of San Francisco accountable.”

Brown was unarmed. The recently released video showed him being brutalized by Walgreens security guard Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, thrown into the air and then, as Brown was backing away, shot by Anthony in the chest.

The fact that an unarmed Black trans person can be killed for an alleged crime of survival like shoplifting, and the guard who murdered him can go free is testimony to the incredible racist gentrification that has swept San Francisco. The city has declared war not on homelessness but on the homeless, the unhoused and the poor.

This ongoing racist war has clearly targeted the trans community, not only with the unprecedented rise of anti-trans legislation across the country, but with the recent brutal attacks and murders of trans people, including at least 11 this year so far.

Here in San Francisco, the home of the 1966 Compton Cafeteria Riots, a rebellion led by Black and Brown transgender youth and drag queens that set the stage for the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in 1969, the LGBTQIA2S+ community and its allies will continue to expose and fightback against this upsurge of violence against the Black and Brown trans community.

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