In the wake of April’s fatal Banko Brown shooting over an alleged Walgreens shoplifting incident, the SF Board of Supervisors passed a ban on security guards drawing guns for property crimes. But it wouldn’t be a shock if Mayor Breed vetoed the measure.
Oddly, the late September tweet where Twitter/X owner Elon Musk declared that SF Supervisor Dean Preston “should go to prison” was in response to a Mission Local article reporting that a Board of Supervisors committee had voted to recommend approving a ban on retail security guards drawing guns on property crime suspects. (That Musk dustup led to Preston quitting Twitter.)
Dean Preston should go to prison— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2023
But on a more serious note, Preston proposed this restriction on security guards pulling guns in the aftermath of the April shooting and killing of Banko Brown, a unarmed 24-year-old Black trans man who’d allegedly shoplifted $15 worth of candy. That shooting inspired weeks of protests, a state investigation, and some PR headaches or DA Brooke Jenkins who decided to not charge the security guard.
Preston’s proposal hoped to prevent anyone else from being shot and killed over minor shoplifting incidents. And in a Tuesday vote, the SF Board of Supervisors approved Preston’s ban in a unanimous vote, with no discussion.
“I am grateful that the Board has taken this important step forward in ensuring that the people of San Francisco will be placed above property,” Preston said in a statement his office sent after the vote. “We should be doing everything in our power to prevent something like the killing of Banko Brown from happening again.”
Private security guards are regulated under the SF Police Code. That code currently says they can’t draw their firearms, except when there’s “an actual and specific threat to person and/or property.” Preston’s just-approved proposal deletes any reference to property, so the guards could only draw their firearms when there’s a threat to a human being. Hence, no shooting people merely for suspected shoplifting.
While the board approved the proposal unanimously, this could still be one to watch. Mayor Breed is on her tough-on-crime kick, so she could theoretically veto this bill, in hopes of fending off her other moderate challengers in the 2024 mayoral election. Of course, the supervisors could simply override that veto, and considering they passed this with an 11-0 vote, they have the majority to do so.
But the veto would allow Breed to grandstand about giving law enforcement “the tools and support they need” in the lead-up to the election. And it would put Supervisor Ahsha Safai on record as voting not once but twice to limit the actions of security guards. Safai, of course, is one of those other moderate challengers in the 2024 mayoral election
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist