DSA SF stands in grief and solidarity with the friends and family of Banko Brown, and we demand a full release of the video evidence pertaining to his horrifying public execution at the hands of an armed Walgreens security guard. While the investigation of Banko’s murder is ongoing, the San Francisco community deserves to know the full truth and see what led to this tragedy.
San Francisco’s Black, trans, homeless, and poor communities, like Banko Brown, deserve better. Local media initially claimed there was a knife in Banko’s possession, and that the security guard who murdered him was “acting in self-defense.” These details have since been shown to be false. Yet, this media misinformation has traveled and continues to be perpetuated; further normalizing an environment that effectively sanctions the killing of poor and homeless people—whether by the state or by private citizens—at the expense of protecting capital.
Banko, a Black trans man who was a homeless organizer with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, was also deadnamed and misgendered by this same local media that spread lies about his death. We express dismay with the process of Black and trans dehumanization following this tragedy.
We also note the parallels with recent events related to the murder of Bob Lee, and the former Fire Commissioner Don Carmignani, who allegedly bear maced at least eight homeless people, and we reject misinformation about vulnerable victims being spread across various platforms which was enabled in part by the police and DA’s decisions not to share crucial information with the public. As the DA’s office releases selective bits of information while withholding others regarding the circumstances of Banko’s murder, some are celebrating this tragedy.
Overblown narratives about crime have not only shifted attention away from those who need help the most in this city, they also have highlighted the closure of corporate stores that had been on the brink of shutting down for almost a decade. While local media and police fan frenzy over shoplifting, $9 million of wage theft by San Francisco’s Marriott hotels has been buried or downplayed by the press. We note the conspicuous absence of breathless opinion pieces detailing the descent into lawlessness by San Francisco’s corporations.
Law-and-order preachers across the political spectrum are fear mongering about poor people stealing items from shelves when they are in a country that has stolen all of its land from Indigenous peoples, and in a “golden” state that organized itself around the theft of people, resources, and land. On stolen land, everything is stolen and exploited by the capitalist class who continue to rake in profits that are unpaid wages.
Banko’s murder is a clear example of how capitalism fails poor and homeless people. Despite Mayor London Breed’s feel-good pledge to “end transgender homelessness”, the facts on the ground show many people like Banko have been turned away from supportive housing and were told to sleep on the street.
This society, in its infinite cruelty, puts vulnerable people into positions of desperation and then celebrates their deaths. As socialists, we reject this sickness completely. We must bring an end to the system that capitalists defend. Major corporations like Walgreens can replace or write off $14.00 worth of candy, but they cannot replace Banko Brown’s life.