Rally held to remember Banko Brown — D.A. declines to file charges against armed Walgreens guard

Activists held a rally on Market Street in San Francisco Monday afternoon at the spot where 24-year-old Banko Brown was shot and killed last Thursday evening

But in a later development, the security guard arrested in connection to the shooting was released from jail and is not facing charges. 

More than a hundred activists gathered on Market near Powell, at the Walgreens where Brown was shot dead. There, they blocked access on the sidewalk, spoke out, and demanded change from Walgreens and from the city. 

The rally and remembrance started at 3 p.m. to honor Brown. Police said Brown was shot dead at Walgreens, by an armed security guard. Those at the rally say that guard shot Brown while attempting to stop a shoplifting incident. 

Friends say Brown was a trans man and an active community organizer for the Young Women's Freedom Center. According to friends, Brown had struggled with housing instability for more than a decade. The group is calling on Mayor London Breed to do more to house trans youth.

The organization is also calling on Walgreens to eliminate armed guards, saying nothing in that shop was worth Brown's life. "It's insane that Walgreens has armed security, there's nothing in that store worth a human life, and Walgreens is not taking care of our community," said Jessica Nowlan from Young Women's Freedom Center. "We demand an end to armed security."

The man accused of shooting Brown, Michael-Earl Wayne Anthony, 33, who was in jail and expected to be formally charged with homicide on Tuesday, was unexpectedly released from jail on Monday. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins' office declined to file charges. Meanwhile, KTVU has learned SFPD is looking at a self-defense claim. 

D.A. Jenkins elaborated on her decision in a statement issued late Monday. 

"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," Jenkins' statement read. 

Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club issued a statement saying in part, they did not know the full details, going as far as calling this a "murder", but that his death was "tragic and senseless." 

"Banko's murder is also a reminder that ensuring the safety of our trans siblings goes beyond proclaiming our acceptance and love for trans people; it requires us to address systemic issues like poverty, homelessness and anti-Black racism." 

The group goes on to say that trans people in San Francisco are 18 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population. "While fewer than 6% of San Franciscans are Black, more than half of the people imprisoned in San Francisco's jails are Black." 

KTVU's Henry Lee contributed to this report.