Democratic San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, who is Black, is accused of using a racial slur against a Black cadet while passing through a security checkpoint at City Hall last month.
The San Francisco Chronicle first reported about the allegations on Friday. According to documents obtained by the newspaper, Walton grew frustrated that the cadet made him remove his belt to pass through the metal detector rather than using a metal detector wand to speed up the process on June 24.
San Francisco Undersheriff Joseph Engler noted what happened in a memo upon advice from the city’s Human Resources Director Carol Isen to document a possible hostile work environment incident. Walton “became very angry” with the cadet, who is African American, and said, “it is ‘N-words like you that looks like me that is always the problem’ referring to the security protocols as some ‘N-word s***’ several times as he yelled at” the cadet, according to the June 26 memo written by Engler and sent to Sheriff Paul Miyamoto and Isen.
Walton himself told Engler about the incident, and the board of supervisors’ president is reportedly not facing any formal punishment. The matter is considered closed.
According to a second memo reviewed by the newspaper, Walton admitted that he used the “N-word” several times against the cadet but explained to Engler, who is White, “how he believed that the way he had used it could be defended.”
In a text to the Chronicle, Walton claimed the first memo was “more colorful and salacious than what I experienced on that day.” “These incidents are in clear dispute and seek to vilify me and my character,” he wrote. “I would never expect the Sheriff’s department to provide an accurate account of what transpired between two Black men.”
One of the most powerfully elected officials in San Francisco, Walton accused the cadet of mistreating him and targeting him as retaliation for his successful introduction of legislation in 2020 to increase oversight for the sheriff’s department. The cadet, whose name was redacted in the memos, identified himself in an interview with the Chronicle as Emare Butler.
Butler claimed that Walton also stated, “You must not know who I am, I’ll whoop you’re [sic] a**,” during the incident at the security checkpoint.
“It was embarrassing,” Butler told the newspaper. “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.”
Walton has been an active voice in calling out allegedly racist language and actions carried out by others, and in 2020 introduced the Caren Act (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies), a reference to slur “Karen” meant to refer to White women complaining, to make it against the law to dial 911 to make a racially biased or fabricated report.
Earlier this month, Walton also reportedly demanded the resignation of school board member Ann Hsu for her response on a survey noting what she perceived as “a lack of family support” for marginalized students “especially in the Black and brown community.”
“It was tough to hear. I felt like it was really hypocritical,” Butler said, referring to Walton’s remarks on Hsu. “You were perfectly fine with berating me in front of a whole floor of people.”