One Year after Killing of Banko Brown, Young Women’s Freedom Center Releases Statement Charging It Could Be Anyone’s ‘Kids’ Next  

Walgreens in San Francisco – screen shot from ABC 7 broadcast

By Praniti Gulyani 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In April 2023, a 24-year-old transgender man struggling with homelessness—Banko Brown—was killed outside a San Francisco Walgreens.

One year after his murder, Julia Arroyo, executive director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center, released a statement expressing her emotions about Brown’s death.

Arroyo begins by talking about her memories associated with Brown, noting, “At Young Women’s Freedom Center, we remember Banko often. His picture is on our five altars across the state and we gather regularly to share sweet memories.”

In her statement, Arroyo describes how these engagements have left individuals feeling angry and hurt about the lack of initiatives taken to improve the situation.

Arroyo stated, “On every one of those occasions, we are left feeling angry and frustrated that very little has been done to prevent more senseless deaths of young trans people.”

Arroyo explains measures taken by the Young Women’s Freedom Center to protect the safety of young individuals like Brown, noting, “We have launched Beloved Community Housing which will help young people like Banko be housed safely and provide the support they need to thrive.”

Arroyo added, “Every parent and community member in California has to live with the chilling knowledge that he was shot and killed by a security guard at Walgreens for allegedly stealing $14 worth of candy.”

Arroyo also depicts the prevalent societal discrepancy between the haves and have nots as one of the core reasons behind Brown’s killing, and, according to the released statement, said, “Poverty (which is worse when you are also Black), the real reason Banko was killed, is knocking on the doors of all of us who are not wealthy while costs of living skyrocket and politicians play chess with our lives.”

Arroyo charged Brown’s killing is actually a universal threat, and that it puts the collective community at risk, warning, “And those who think this could never happen to their kids or their neighbors’ have to know that they are wrong.”

Moreover, as opposed to emotions of nostalgia and fond remembrance, Arroyo hopes Brown’s death ignites anger amidst the youth, as Arroyo notes in the statement.

“I hope as you take a moment to remember Banko, you feel angry about this. And take what actions you can to protect poor and Black trans youth.” said Arroyo.

About The Author

Praniti Gulyani is a second-year student at UC Berkeley majoring in English with minor(s) in Creative Writing and Journalism. During her time at The Davis Vanguard as a Court Watch Intern and Opinion(s) Columnist for her weekly column, ‘The Student Vanguard' within the organization, she hopes to create content that brings the attention of the general reader to everyday injustice issues that need to be addressed immediately. After college, she hopes to work as a writer or a columnist in a newspaper or magazine, using the skills that she gains during her time at The Davis Vanguard to reach a wider audience.

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