Chicago’s controversial gang database of more than 128.000 gang members, including both adults and juveniles, is being challenged with a class action law suit that charges it is error-ridden at best, and discriminatory at worst. The make-up of the database, which is 75% African American and 20% Latino, is disturbing in itself and is disproportionate in relationship to the demographics of the general population, which is evidence of the work that is needed to bring change to Chicago.
Certainly, there is a need for the Chicago Police Department to track gang activity in order to keep our residents safe. But when errors in the database negatively impact the lives of people, affecting their ability to get jobs to take care of their families, we must reevaluate how this data is obtained and verified. Similar registries in large urban areas have been abolished because of just such errors. As Mayor, I would urge the Police Department to abolish this registry and use other means of tracking, not just so called gang members, but anyone involved in constant criminal activity.
This class-action lawsuit, filed Tuesday by four residents, who accuse Chicago police officers of falsely naming them in the database, alleges that arbitrary methods such as race or neighborhood are used by the police department to add suspects to its database. Registries like this should not replace informed data obtained through solid police work.
Statement attributable to Dorothy Brown, candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago
June 20, 2018