Several reports of an incident involving San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton allegedly using a racial slur and yelling at a black sheriff’s cadet while passing through San Francisco City Hall security in June was released during the weekend, leading to increased outrage and demands of official repercussions.
According to several city memos released by the San Francisco Chronicle during the weekend, Walton was going through the City Hall security checkpoint on June 24th when he became agitated as cadet Emare Butler had Walton remove his belt and go through the metal detector rather than using the faster method of waving a handheld metal detector. As a result, Walton angrily told the African American Butler, “It is n-words like you that looks like me that is always the problem.” Walton then proceeded to yell things such as “You must not know who I am, I’ll whoop your a–” and “This is some n-word s—” before moving on.
In a later interview, Butler noted that “It was embarrassing. You come to work, and you don’t know who his friends are, you don’t know who he has alliances with. I’m just an employee here. You were perfectly fine with berating me in front of a whole floor of people.”
However, the incident was quickly investigated by San Francisco Undersheriff Joseph Engler. Walton said that he had used the slur several times and that he believed that the way he used it could be justified. Walton also explained that the way it was described in the memos was not the way the incident actually happened on that day and that Butler had targeted him for past actions, such as bringing more oversight against the Sheriff’s Department.
“There is no surprise that incidents that transpired on June 24, 2022, are more colorful and salacious than what I experienced on that day,” said Walton during the weekend. “These incidents are in clear dispute and seek to vilify me and my character. I would never expect the Sheriff’s department to provide an accurate account of what transpired between two Black men. I am used to this line of accusations being Black and I expected this retaliation at some point with my demanding sheriff oversight.”
Many in city call out hypocrisy in Walton’s actions
While Walton did not receive any punishment at the time, many are calling the incident hypocritical by many in the city, especially concerning Walton’s past roles in calling out offensive language in the past.
“Walton has had a long history of social justice and speaking out against racism in the past,” explained Bay Area political issue consultant Hannah Reed to the Globe on Monday. “And that includes language. The CAREN Act, which was passed in October 2020, aimed to stop false police reports based on what race the person is specifically. Guess who wrote that? Walton. Every time a city official or employee was chastised for something racist? Walton was there. And that includes the recent scandal with School Board member Ann Hsu and allegedly writing a racist answer. He was one of the first to speak out against her. Even his opponents note that he does what what he thinks is right in these incidents.”
“But a lot of people here are upset that he said those words publicly like that while belittling a public employee. You just can’t do that. And yes, there is definitely something to be given for the fact that the n-word being used between black people is generally accepted, while anyone besides them using it at them is racist is a factor. Walton is also right that how it happened that day may not have been put done properly. But the evidence still all points to him using that word publicly there with it upsetting enough people to be looked into. That does warrant an apology at the very least. Many want some sort of punishment or repercussions for this. Even with context it is still warranted.”
As of Monday, no repercussions have been given to Walton over the alleged June 24th incident.
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