Jordan Neely is being cast as the next George Floyd, a pretext for violence in the style of 2020. While that plays out, a case in San Francisco has not received the attention it deserves.
On April 27, “black trans man” Banko Brown shoplifted items from a downtown Walgreens store. The theft drew the attention of security guard Michael Earl-Ray Anthony, who struggled with Brown. Anthony contended that Brown threatened to stab him and shot the shoplifter, who later died from the wound. No weapon was found on the decedent.
“Banko’s death is yet another testament to the dire need for increased advocacy for the safety of all trans people in this country, especially Black trans people,” said a statement from Tori Cooper of the Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “His death comes at a time of blatant hateful, xenophobic rhetoric and legislative measures which fuel violence against our community. We can’t continue to stand idle while this unfolds.”
Protesters also called for Anthony to be prosecuted for murder, but San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins took a different approach. “The killing of Mr. Banko Brown on April 27, 2023 was a tragedy and my heart breaks for his friends and family,” Jenkins said in a statement.
“After careful review of all of the evidence gathered by the San Francisco Police Department in this case, my office will not be pursuing murder charges, at this time, in connection to the shooting. We reviewed witness statements, statements from the suspect, and video footage of the incident and it does not meet the People’s burden to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the suspect is guilty of a crime. The evidence clearly shows that the suspect believed he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense. We cannot bring forward charges when there is credible evidence of reasonable self-defense. Doing so would be unethical and create false hope for a successful prosecution. No matter the case, however, we must follow the law and the evidence, wherever it leads. We never make decisions based on emotions or what may be politically expedient.”
According to Jenkins, “this wasn’t someone just walking out with an item. This is a shoplifting that became violent because Banko Brown initiated that aggressive contact with the security guard which turned this legally into a robbery.” The DA, who is black, asked that “even in the midst of very intense heightened emotions that people look at the same evidence that we did, because that is what our decision is based on.
“We all share that we wish that this never happened,” Jenkins added, “but the facts are what they are and that is what we are limited to.” One fact missing from many reports was that Michael Earl-Ray Anthony is also black and something of a hardship case.
“I’ve really been on my own since I was a young teenager,” Anthony told the DA’s office. “Always moving, different places, different houses, different family, friends. My parents never really worked. I was the only one working. My stepdad — he was on drugs.”
Anthony spoke of working as worked as a security guard since he was 18, and for a time as an armored truck driver, delivering bags of up to $600,000 to banks. The guard was distraught at killing someone and told detectives, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” Local activists cast him as a murderer.
“If there was a crime that was committed in terms of stealing — that is if — there was a greater crime, which was murder.” That was Honey Mahogany, the first Black trans chair of the local Democratic Party, in a May 17 protest outside the DA’s office.
“Banko Brown was not a danger to anyone,” according to Kevin Ortiz of the Latinx Democratic Club. “Brooke Jenkins needs to do her job — she must be held accountable for the families she’s failed. And that starts with Banko Brown.” In reality, Jenkins is doing her job, and it didn’t start with Banko Brown.
Brooke Jenkins ousted District Attorney Chesa Boudin, son of Weather Underground terrorists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. Both were involved in the 1981 armored car robbery in Nyack, New York, that claimed the lives of police officers Waverly Brown and Edward O’Grady along with security guard Peter Paige. As author William Rosenau recalls, a masked man stood over the African American Waverly “and shot him dead with a 9mm pistol.” Officer Edmund O’Grady died of gunshots from an M16.
With his parents imprisoned, Chesa was duly adopted by Weather Underground stalwarts Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. The child was named after Joanne Chesimard of the Black Liberation Army, a cop-killer and fugitive also known as Assata Shakur and now a hero to Black Lives Matter.
After four days of ballot counting in November, 2020, Chesa Boudin was elected District Attorney of San Francisco. His rigidly pro-criminal polices were too much for the people of San Francisco, who ousted him in a June 2022 recall by a 60-40 margin. Mayor London Breed then appointed Brooke Jenkins, a University of Chicago law alum and prosecutor in the city’s homicide division.
Jenkins proceeded to fire 16 Boudin loyalists, part of “important changes to my management team and staff that will help advance my vision to restore a sense of safety in San Francisco by holding serious and repeat offenders accountable and implementing smart criminal justice reforms.”
In November 2022, Jenkins prevailed over three rivals with approximately 54 percent of the vote. The victor pledged that “improving and promoting public safety will be my and our office’s top priority.” In that cause, Jenkins follows the law and the evidence, and never makes decisions based on emotions or “what may be politically expedient.” That is good news for the people and sound advice for all district attorneys moving forward.