NEW YORK CITY — A controversial NYPD gang database is discriminatory and should be abolished, city lawmakers and advocates say.
City Council Member Antonio Reynoso said at a Wednesday rally that he intends to introduce legislation to dismantle the database.
“It is time we put an end to this racially discriminatory, legally questionable practice once and for all,” he said in a statement. “My heart goes out to all of the New Yorkers who have their lives impacted by this database.”
The NYPD’s Criminal Group Database holds records on up to 42,000 New Yorkers, nearly of whom are people of color, according to Reynoso’s office.
The list has long drawn criticism from elected officials and community leaders for what they say are vague and arbitrary criteria. White supremacist and mafia groups are excluded from the list, while Black and Brown New Yorkers as young as 13 are on it, advocates say.
A Wednesday rally drew together those critics, who include Reynoso members of the Grassroots Advocates for Neighborhood Groups and Solutions Coalition and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
“For too long, the NYPD has been able to label and criminalize young people based on their perceived associations. This labeling by police can have devastating and life-altering impacts on targeted people,” Victor Dempsey, a GANGS Coalition member, said in a statement. “The Gang Database serves no legitimate safety purpose; it is a tool of collective punishment, surveillance, and harassment that undermines the rights of mostly Black and Latinx New Yorkers, and we at the GANGS Coalition call for it to be abolished immediately.”
Results from a years-long internal probe into the database are expected in the coming weeks, officials said.