by JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information
Banko Brown was 22 years old, transgender, homeless and was murdered by a Walgreens security guard because he was suspected of stealing a handful of candy. A video of the incident was recently released by the DA‘s office after there was a community uproar and the San Francisco Board of supervisors officially petitioned the DA to stop withholding this evidence from the public.
District Attorney Jenkins has reinforced that she believes that Walgreen’s security guard, Michael Wayne Earl Anthony, acted in self defense in the killing of Banko Brown. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that she agrees with the DA‘s decision.
Attorney Geoffrea Morris is the San Francisco native and veteran community activist, who pulled together the Justice for Banko Brown rally at the District Attorney’s office in San Francisco on May 17, and activists, community leaders, community members, clergy, artists, journalists and more showed up.
Ironically Banko Brown was killed days before Jordan Neely, who was a young Black man killed by a white vigilante for allegedly begging for food on a New York Subway train. When Jordan was strangled to death, many people stood by, watched and did nothing, the same as when Banko was being swung around the store and dominated, prior to the security guard shooting him. In the video of Banko’s murder, you can see at least two people watching, while there are photos that exist of Jordan Neely being murdered.
Check out the words of Attorney Geoffrea Morris, as she breaks down the murder of Banko Brown and the gross and malicious negligence being demonstrated towards the Black community, by the Black District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in her refusal to charge yet another case where Black homeless or low income people are the victims in San Francisco.
JR Valrey: How would you frame the security guard murder of Banko Brown?
Attorney Geoffrea Morris: I think that this issue is about meeting the needs of the business community and trying to make San Francisco look hard on crime. “Look at how we deal with petty theft, we are no longer a soft city.” That’s what I truly believe in my heart, because the case is not one of self defense. In no way would anyone that saw this film say that Banko Brown had the upper-hand on the security guard.
Banko Brown was like 5-foot-4, that security guard was 6-foot-3. And throughout the whole process, the security guard was the aggressor and the dominant pursuer. We saw Banko crawling away and trying to get away. The interviews and everything tells you that the security guard is guilty. Do I think he is guilty of 187 murder? No, but definitely manslaughter and he should be charged. But the DA can not pick and choose who is worthy of being a victim here in San Francisco.
And that is why I reached out to so many communities, the Asian, the LBGT community and so many more because everybody has to stand up for this. Death over candy cannot be the standard for San Francisco and it will not be the standard for the Black community.
We should not be lobbying a Black District Attorney for justice in 2023. I think it is important for everyone in our community to realize that we have to start voting and supporting people that are behind issues, and not just voting for them because they are Black because that is not meeting our needs.
JR Valrey: What is the history of this District Attorney? For the people who may not know, she refuses to prosecute the police murder of Keita O’Neal, she charged Shannon Collier with very minor misdemeanor charges – the white galley owner who water-hosed the homeless Black woman during the atmospheric rainstorms – and you have on video the former Fire Commissioner macing homeless people unprovoked. None of these things have resulted in serious charges in addition to the police murder of Banko Brown.
Attorney Geoffrea Morris: The thing is “I want to unravel everything that Chesa Boudin has done. And I do not support, endorse, or continue on any of his routes (to justice for the people)” (in her DA Brooke Jenkins voice).
Not everything Chesa (Chesa Boudin, the recalled District Attorney) did was bad and not everything Brooke is doing is good. And I have heard a lot of people in the community say that they want to recall her or they want her to resign. No. We as a community need to bring forth a real candidate. Brooke Jenkins is on the ballot next November. We have 18 months to get somebody who really knows the law and will apply it fairly for everyone. We could go down DA Jenkins’ checkered past of charging and who is worthy of getting charged, but really we have to do the work and find us a viable candidate that all San Franciscans would be proud to have as a District Attorney.
JR Valrey: What can the average person do? The average person in San Francisco? The average person outside of the City?
Attorney Geoffrea Morris: One of the things that people can do is to hold Walgreens accountable right? We shouldn’t have any armed guards or armed staff in any of our family stores. I mean the children, the elderly were all in the crossfire. Walgreens can implement all kinds of different means to secure their property that doesn’t include lethal force. And let me just tell you that Walgreens is not the only one.
Our Foodco stores and so many other stores in our Black and Brown areas have armed guards. It’s just ridiculous. One of the things is that we have to push on these corporations to be better neighbors. And we have to go out and cast a vote for District Attorneys who are applying the application of law to all victims. You can’t just have a perfect victim. We saw with George Floyd that all victims need to be honored. I don’t want to hear about perfect victims, Banko Brown is a victim and we are here today to clear Banko’s name and get the respect that Banko needs to successfully transition.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media. He is also the editor in chief of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. He teaches the Community Journalism class twice a week at the San Francisco Bay View newspaper office.