The an enig gang database maintained by new York police consists practically entirely the brown and also black people.

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New York City police police officers gather in the Bronx borough of brand-new York during a gang raid on April 27, 2016. Photo: new York Police room via APNew York City police policemans gather in the Bronx borough of new York during a gang raid ~ above April 27, 2016. Photo: brand-new York Police room via AP

The new York Police room is tho listing children as young together 13 in its secret gang database, police officials said a new York City council committee yesterday. The database is growing, currently including 18,084 people, up 2 percent from critical June, when the NYPD critical testified about the database. The boost came in spite of the removal of some 2,125 names native the registry — since the police included nearly 2,500 world to the database.

Oleg Chernyavsky, head of legislature affairs for the NYPD, said the the supervisory board members the the database — officially termed the “Criminal team Database” — is a “precision policing” tool, concentrated on “finding and arresting the few who undermine the fabric of our communities through violence and also intimidation.”

Activists have long warned the the database is a dangerous type of police overreach, subjecting black and also brown brand-new Yorkers come surveillance, harassment, and criminal jeopardy based upon factors as chaste as that they walk to college with and also what colors lock wear. The NYPD i will not ~ disclose who is included in the database, and also there is no system for a human to challenge their inclusion.


“I guess the issue would it is in that particular communities room surveilled more than other communities. Space the Proud boys in this gang database?”

Council Member Donovan Richards, who chairs the Public security Committee, has proposed legislation that would require the NYPD to educate minors of their inclusion in the database and carry out a way for lock to dispute it, yet all sides appear to agree that the law is a poor idea. The NYPD suggests that telling young civilization they are thought to it is in affiliated with a gang would certainly hamper investigations. Critics of the database argue the the suggest legislation might entrench the NYPD’s method to corridor policing, once what’s really required is come abolish the database entirely.

The corridor database proceeds to be composed virtually entirely of civilization of color, according to NYPD testimony. Only 1.1 percent of human being on the list space white. Sixty-six percent room black, and 31.7 percent space Latinx. The gyeongju composition that the database shows patterns of corridor membership, not police biases, Chernyavsky testified.

“The NYPD go not control the recruitment the criminal groups,” that said. “If the board of directors member wants to hold a hearing around diversity in recruitment efforts in this groups, we’ll it is in in the audience acquisition notes, however realistically we uncover these teams as lock come.”

“I assumption: v the worry would it is in that particular communities room surveilled more than other communities,” Richards shooting back. “Are the Proud guys in this gang database?” the asked, introduce to the far-right, self-declared chauvinist group.

“I’m no 100 percent sure; they very well might be,” answer Assistant cook James Essig that the NYPD Detective Bureau. “I’m no going say yes or no. But let me dual check.” NYPD officials had told a reporter in October the the Proud Boys space not in the database.

The question of what constitutes a “criminal group” for the purposes of the database stays unanswered. Pressed by City board of directors members, police officials Chernyavsky and Essig did not provide a definition, and the NYPD push office did no respond to multiple requests for clarification.

The NYPD Patrol Guide includes a meaning of “gangs” an initial adopted by the California legislature:

Any ongoing organization, combination or team of 3 or much more persons, whether formal or informal, having actually as among its major activities, the the supervisory board of one or an ext criminal plot (including medicine dealing), having a common name or typical identifying authorize or symbol, and whose members personally or collectively engage in or have involved in a sample of criminal corridor activity.

It’s no clear that this an interpretation is the one the NYPD supplies to compile the Criminal group Database. The a definition that would seem to use to large, mostly white organized crime outfits like mafias, however Chernyavsky told City council members that organized crime membership is actually tracked in a different database, because those groups regularly involve interstate and international criminal activity, and also the NYPD polices castle in conjunction with the commonwealth government.


Chernyavsky’s distinction is complex by the reality that few of the NYPD’s many high-profile gang raids in current years have actually been make in conjunction v federal authorities and have caused federal prosecutions under Racketeer Influenced and also Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, statutes, which worry criminal interference in interstate or worldwide commerce.

At Thursday’s hearing, police officials gift statistics reflecting that the number of children included in the database has actually dropped precipitously because it came under scrutiny critical year. Last June, 1,460 civilization under the age of 18 were detailed in the database, consisting of 17 13-year-olds, 80 14-year-olds, and 204 15-year-olds. This year, Chernyavsky said, 494 human being on the list are younger than 18, including 61 15-year-olds, 19 14-year-olds, and three 13-year-olds.

If the possibility of brand-new Yorkers being placed on a secret police gang list v no recourse makes City the supervisory board members nervous, that shouldn’t, Chernyavsky argued. Mere inclusion on the list, he said, doesn’t have any kind of concrete consequences: It’s not made public, the doesn’t display up in criminal histories or rap sheets, that not shared with public real estate or potential employers, it doesn’t lead to sentencing enhancements, and prosecutors don’t have accessibility to the database. “A person’s visibility in the NYPD Criminal group Database just does not have actually the collateral after-effects seen in various other jurisdictions,” Chernyavsky said.

That contention was challenged by various other witnesses yesterday. Yung-Mi Lee, a supervising attorney at a windy defense group in Brooklyn, testified that any type of suggestion the gang database details doesn’t uncover its method into the hand of prosecutors is false. “As a practicing criminal defense attorney, I have actually seen this information being shared,” Lee said. “It’s in the police reports.” When civilization included in the corridor database find themselves arrested for whatever reason, Lee said, “It’s plainly shared with the prosecutors. That in there, the prosecutors usage it versus our clients.”

City university of brand-new York law professor Babe Howell conducted an investigation the a huge 2016 gang raid in the Bronx, which found that might of those swept up in the raid had actually no gang connections or background of violent crime. “The concept that this is precision is entirely a nonsense label that we do should resist,” she said.

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“The best means to increase gang violence is to do what the NYPD are doing in regards to suppressing gangs. You’re placing out fire through gasoline here.”

The NYPD touts the arrest documents of those in the database — 90 percent that them have actually been arrested ~ above felony dues at least once and also the average human being in the database has been arrested 11.7 times — as indicators that the world it’s tracking really are significant criminals. But the department no able to tell the council how many of those arrests led to convictions. Howell said that the boosted police scrutiny brought on by consists in the gang database was itself likely to create arrests, eventually putting children in pretrial detention in corridor units and pushing them into gangs. “The best method to boost gang violence is to do what the NYPD space doing in regards to suppressing gangs,” Howell said. “You’re putting out fire through gasoline here.”

Howell urged the City board of directors to organize off on legislation worrying the gang database till it’s better understood. Activists have been urging the NYPD’s Office that the Inspector general to investigate the department’s corridor policing practices, and also they’re hopeful that a report is forthcoming. Till then, Howell said, “trying to resolve this is favor doing surgery prior to getting the MRI results.”

Kraig Lewis, a member of the Bronx 120 whose story to be told in The Intercept film “Trouble finds You,” testified come the committee about his own experience. “I was swept up in a federal gang sweep as result of my childhood interactions with my friends,” Lewis said. “My proof was facebook posts, music videos, and the government’s interpretation of my wiretap. I had actually no criminal record and also I remained in grad school once they came for me. I had actually one an ext semester left to ending up being someone like you,” the said, addressing Richards. “I spent 22 month in jail, and also I don’t think that me sitting in jail through no criminal record and also no evidence of a crime as result of a database is right. Ns shouldn’t it is in in the same facility as El Chapo. Ns feel as though my rights were violated.”

Lewis was ultimately sentenced to time offered after a judge threw the end the plea deal that prosecutors had actually extracted native him, yet his desires of greater education have actually been dashed, and also he has actually struggled to discover employment.

“What wake up to the boy that grow up in that poor neighborhood, gets beat top top every day, goes to his brothers for protection” Lewis asked, describing his very own situation. “He’s a nerd, and he goes come Catholic school, he doesn’t even curse. He pipeline the neighborhood however keeps in contact with the world who defended him his whole life, and also then he drops in the corridor database, and he it s okay swept. Currently he’s obtained a felony and also he can’t become you.”

Lewis looked in ~ Richards, who grew up in southern Jamaica, Queens. “I say ‘you’ since you’re a black man,” Lewis said. “And i wish I might be you, however I can’t now, since of what they did to me.”


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