The controversy surrounding a racial slur that San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton said to a Sheriff’s Department Cadet at City Hall Security in June escalated on Monday and Tuesday, with Mayor London Breed calling for an apology and Walton threatening legal action.
On June 24th, a cadet name Emare Butler asked Walton to 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.
After the story was brought to the attention of the press a month later, Walton quickly responded that an accurate account was not being given, and that it was happening to ‘vilify’ him. A Sheriff’s investigation did find that the slurs were used, but that Walton stressed that it was a justified use. No action was taken against Walton at the time.
However, with the incident now growing and more citizens demanding consequences, Mayor Breed weighed in on the issue on Monday and demanded that Walton apologize.
“All city employees should be respected no matter their job and an apology should occur,” said Breed on Monday. “It’s very concerning when someone is treated in a way that they feel has been disrespectful. Especially when it occurs in front of other people, it can be quite demeaning. That’s the thing that I’m most concerned about. Definitely, the use of that word toward any employee is not appropriate no matter what your race is.
“People in positions of authority, whether they’re elected officials or managers of other people in the city — we have to be held to a high standard. We are responsible for policymaking. We’re responsible for funding and resources. I think there’s a lot of fear in someone possibly losing their job in a case like this.
“It’s very important that people aren’t specifically targeted, of course, but I also think it’s important that the sheriff’s deputies are consistent in doing their job to ensure that the public is safe no matter who the person is that comes through those metal detectors.”
However, Walton shot back later in the day, threatening legal action while admonishing the behavior of the cadets previously leading up to the incident, insisting yet again that the incident itself had played out differently, and slamming Breed on her Mayoral tenure.
“Their depiction of the incident is inaccurate and I may take legal action,” noted Walton. “I should have reported the consistent and constant harassment of this individual, and other cadets, over the duration of my tenure on this Board of Supervisors. I also believe the mayor should stick to commenting on all the corruption that has existed during her tenure.”
Repercussions of the incident
The incident will likely have an effect on the Tuesday voting of the admonishment of San Francisco School Board Member Ann Hsu over a different racial incident, which Walton has been a main supporter of.
“The person saying to punish someone for writing something perceived as racist while they themselves are being accused of something far worse in terms of racial language is something everyone can see clear as day,” explained Bay Area political issue consultant Hannah Reed to the Globe on Tuesday. “Right now the Walton incident is in dispute, but it is known that the slurs were said. That just plain destroys his credibility right there on this, and many voting may see that.”
This is also not the first time that Breed and Walton have butted heads, as last year they were also trading barbs following the announcement by Supervisor Aaron Peskin that he would be receiving treatment for alcohol abuse.
The racial slur incident is expected to have an effect on the Hsu vote Tuesday night in San Francisco.
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