Community-Driven Federal Class Action Lawsuit & Report Targets Chicago Police’s Inaccurate, Racially Discriminatory Gang Database

At least 195,000 individuals – 95% Black and Latinx – are listed in an error-filled database from which their names can never be removed.

Chicago – The Chicagoans for an End to the Gang Database, a coalition of individuals and community organizations, gathered in City Hall on Tuesday to announce a new federal class action against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department (CPD), targeting CPD’s unconstitutional Gang Database, and urging City Council to take action.

The suit was filed on behalf of four individual plaintiffs, three Black and one Latino. Each plaintiff was falsely identified as a gang member and has since been subjected to irreparable harm and harassment because of the wrongful designation.

“The Chicago Police Department documented me as a gang member when I was just 14,” said Lawrence Vaile, one class member. “The police would stop me and ask me what gang I’m in, they would slap me for lying to them because the computer shows them I’m in the gang. This put me in danger from the cops and from the streets.”

Also joining the lawsuit are a number of community-based organizations with deep roots in Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities, including Black Youth Project 100- Chicago, Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Latino Union, Mijente, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos-Immigrant Worker’s Project, and Organized Communities Against Deportations.

“This database hasn’t led to positive change for the Chicago communities directly impacted. Our tax dollars should not be spent on instruments of racism, or on tools that criminalize and scapegoat people of color.  Chicago’s so-called problem with violence is rooted in our city’s problem with racism and inequality.  Our resources should be used on the tools, projects and initiatives that enhance our communities, bring ordinary people together, and allow us to prosper”, said Todd St Hill, Member of BYP100.

In addition to using the database to harass and falsely detain people, CPD provides its incorrect, inconsistent database to third parties. This shared, inaccurate information triggers further repercussions that can include job loss, denial of access to public housing and public education, inability to secure certain licensures, ineligibility for bond, and possible deportation.

“As long as the Gang Database continues to indiscriminately add Latinx and Black Chicagoans to their list, Mayor Emanuel cannot call Chicago a Sanctuary City for anyone. Making Chicago safe for immigrants starts today with making sure that the gang database stops being a  list of people for ICE to pick up during immigration raids,” said Tania Unzueta, Policy Director for Mijente and one of the organizational plaintiffs.

The lawsuit notes that CPD has not developed any consistent guidelines on inclusion in the Gang database, such as information on an individual’s criminal conduct or active gang activity. Instead, CPD officers have unlimited discretion to add names to the list.

“CPD has long been on notice that the Gang Database discriminates against Black and Brown Chicagoans and violates people’s constitutional rights by creating barriers to employment and immigration relief, subjecting people to unlawful detention and searches and seizures and constant police harassment and surveillance. The gang database is riddled with inaccuracies and serves no legitimate law enforcement purpose—all it does is further institutionalize CPD’s well documented policy and practice of racial profiling.”  Said Vanessa del Valle, counsel for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The CPD confirmed that, as of May 2018, the Gang Database lists more than 128,000 adults. Although data on juveniles was not released, a new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Policing in Chicago Research Group estimates that the total number is closer to 195,000. Of those, 95% are Black or Latinx.

The lawsuit makes the demands from community organizations requesting that the Court enter an order requiring that the City of Chicago and CPD implement the following changes:

  1. Criteria for entry into Gang Database. An individual may only be designated a gang member upon a sworn declaration from two or more detectives setting forth the basis the detectives believe that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is a gang member. All entries into the database must be approved by the Superintendent and by CPD general counsel. CPD may not designate any person a gang member based solely on the following: Race/ethnicity/country of origin/immigration status, Law enforcement action occurring in alleged “gang territory,” Attire, Tattoos, Residence, Relations and/or known associates, Type of conviction, School/school location, Surveillance of social media, A statement that an individual “self-reported” gang membership, unless admission of gang membership was provided under penalty of perjury and with the advice of counsel.
  2. Notice of Gang Designation. CPD will provide written notice to every individual who is currently or who has within the last 20 years been designated a gang member in one or more of CPD’s databases. The notice will state the following: 1) the date the individual was designated a gang member; 2) the gang(s) with which the individual is alleged to be have been affiliated; 3) the basis for the designation; 4) the name of the officer(s) who made the initial designation; 5) any external agencies that have access to that designation, and the dates on which any external agency accessed that designation; and 6) the most recent date of any audit or assessment of the accuracy of that designation. On a quarterly basis, CPD will provide written notice containing the same information to every individual who has been designated as gang affiliated and remains in a CPD database.
  3. Opportunity to contest Gang Designation. Any person who contests their designation as a gang member shall have the right to an administrative hearing presided over by neutral, non-law enforcement affiliated fact finder for the purposes of determining whether CPD can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the individual is a gang member. If CPD cannot meet its burden, the individuals shall be stricken from the database and provided with documentation certifying that CPD lacked sufficient evidence to impose the Gang Designation.
  4. Data Sharing. CPD is prohibited from providing gang designations to any third party entity. On a quarterly basis CPD will publish data about the individuals designated as gang affiliated, disaggregated by: Race/ethnicity; Gender; Age; Alleged gang affiliation(s);Basis for identifying alleged affiliation(s);Location of police interaction that lead to designation(s); Date of first designation and; Number of arrests for serious or violent crime.

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and alleges multiple violations of due process protections under the U.S. Constitution. The suit also alleges that the manner in which CPD gathers and disseminates false information about gang membership violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination. Defendants include the City of Chicago, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and several officers within the Chicago Police Department. Additional attorneys for class include Elizabeth A. Homsy of the Law Office of Elizabeth A. Homsy, Sheila Bedi of the MacArthur Justice Center Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Brendan Shiller, Chris Bergin, Tia Haywood of Shiller Preyar, LLC. and Joey Mogul of the People’s Law Office.

What Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s Got Wrong on the Chicago Gang Database

What Superintendent Eddie Johnson Got Wrong on the Chicago Gang Database

Yesterday Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he has a plan to fix the Chicago Gang Database listing out a number of reforms that he said would fix the problems.

But “fixing” the database does not sufficiently address many of the harms caused by the gang database, including: increased criminal sentences, denial of bonds not requiring cash payment, housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and being targeted by immigration enforcement.

Here are 4 things that the Superintendent got wrong during his interview:

  • Superintendent Johnson’s plan to “tweak” the gang database would not have prevented the raid that occured at Wilmer Catalan Ramirez’s home in the Spring of 2017. Under Superintendent Johnson’s plan, Wilmer’s information would still have been shared with federal immigration agents, and he still would have been one of many people being targeted by ICE as part of a series of ‘gang operations.’ This  proposed “tweaking” by the head of the Chicago Police Department does nothing to address the fact that Chicagoans’ information is being shared with federal agencies and other law enforcement agencies every single day.

 

  • Superintendent’ Johnson’s plan does not apply to other law enforcement agencies, who can interpret and use the shared information at their discretion. Previously In Springfield, for example, contrary to federal law, local police officers who conducted criminal record checks of individuals applying for housing with the Springfield Housing Authority were reportedly also providing Housing Authority officials with information that included the suspected gang affiliations of applicants. It is not yet clear exactly if or how information on alleged gang affiliation is shared with potential employers in Chicago or Chicago Housing Authority.(1)

 

  • Superintendent Johnson claimed that the police department relies on tracking a person’s gang status to solve crime, but according to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Policing in Chicago Research Group “Tracked and Targeted” report, “While gangs are often blamed for gun violence in Chicago, 67.5% of the people identified as ‘gang affiliated’ on the SSL (Strategic Subject List) had no documented arrests for violent offenses or unlawful use of a weapon.” Again, raising the question of how exactly the use of the database by the Chicago Police Department helps in reducing gun violence and solve crime.

 

  • Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed “we [CPD] recognize that some people may be misidentified.” The reality is that we do not know how many people are misidentified, as there has been no transparency, no notification process, and no checks and balances, and instead several cases of people who have suffered harsh consequences after being misidentified. In addition, the problem is broad — information obtained through a series of FOIA requests illustrate that the Chicago Police Department has been maintaining and mining information of over 128,000 people they have labeled as gang affiliated.

The Campaign to End the Chicago Gang Database is an open-source campaign by community, legal, research, and policy-organizations to expose and repair the harm of the gang database. Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), and Mijente have been leading a local campaign urging the city of Chicago expand what it means to be a “Sanctuary City” to protect immigrants and US born people of color, particularly those who are targeted by local police. Exposing and eliminating the gang database is a the top of the agenda. Find out more at: http://erasethedatabase.com.

(1)  UIC Policing in Chicago Research Group, “Tracked and Targeted: Early Findings on Chicago’s Gang Datbase”, page 10. http://erasethedatabase.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Tracked-Targeted-0217.pdf

City of Chicago Under Review by OIG for Use of Gang Database

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 22, 2018

The investigation comes after more than a year of campaigning for Chicago to be a real ‘Sanctuary’ for its residents by, amongst other demands, eliminating the Gang Database.

Chicago, IL – Today Inspector General Joseph M. Ferguson announced that the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General will begin a review into the City of Chicago’s Gang Database. The review comes after a year-long campaign exposing the impact of the Gang Database on U.S.-born and immigrant communities of color.

The campaign included the case of Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, an immigrant facing deportation because of his erroneous inclusion in the database, and the comprehensive report, Tracked & Targeted: Early Findings on Chicago’s Gang Database, detailing how the Chicago Police Department makes use of the city’s database to police and profile high numbers of black and brown Chicagoans.

“The decision of the Office of Inspector General to review the City of Chicago for the use of the Gang Database confirms what our communities have been saying for months: That the Chicago Police Department has a dangerous tool they use to criminalize communities of color,” said Janae Bonsu, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and principal author of the Report. “These practices have devastating effects on our communities, from decreasing job opportunities, to increasing risk of deportation. The database needs to be eliminated and we will continue to work to make sure that the City has policies that prioritize the safety of our communities instead of policing and incarceration,” she concluded.

The coalition of organizations calls on the Mayor of Chicago and the City Council to take action to protect its residents and put a moratorium on the sharing of information in the Gang Database with other agencies and stop adding names to the list, while the Office of the Inspector General’s investigation takes place.

“We welcome the review from the OIG. At the same time, our communities are in crisis and the City of Chicago has a responsibility to do what it can to keep us safe. Every day the Trump administration is sending immigration agents to target our families and neighbors. The Gang Database is literally a list that ICE uses to justify these attacks, and the City of Chicago has a responsibility to take action now,” stated Rosi Carrasco, member of Organized Communities Against Deportation, and undocumented organizer against the gang database.

According to an analysis of the Strategic Subject List, early 65,000 people in the Chicago area are gang affiliated.  74.5% of people listed as “gang affiliated” are Black, 21.4% are Latinx, 60.7% are less than 30 years old, and 96.9% are male. The campaign to end the Chicago Gang Database, has worked for the last year to research and expose the database, including releasing the Tracked & Targeted: Early Findings on Chicago’s Gang Database, report, and advocating with the City of Chicago to end the practice of tagging individuals as potential gang members.

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Sign the petition demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council
Eliminate the Gang Database!  

New Report on Gang Database Details Harms to Chicago Residents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 06, 2017

Contact: Janae Bonsu, 917-439-1876, BYP100
Tania Unzueta, 773-387-3186, Mijente

Report released today shows how the Chicago gang database decreases job opportunities for Black and Latino youth, increases levels of policing in communities of color, and puts city’s immigrants at risk for deportation.

Read the full report here

Chicago, IL — A new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Policing in Chicago Research Group, Tracked and Targeted: Early Findings on Chicago’s Gang Database, provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on the Chicago Gang Database and the harms that it causes Black and Latinx communities in Chicago.

“The report makes clear why communities of color in Chicago are upset about the gang database. The CPD overwhelmingly targets Black and Latinx youth for inclusion in the database,” says Andy Clarno, director of the Policing in Chicago Research Group that conducted the research. “And, as the report shows, federal law enforcement agencies such as ICE and the FBI have access to this information, putting immigrants on the list at heightened risk for deportation. People on the database are also subject to police harassment as well as more severe bail, bond and sentencing decisions,” he concluded.

Janae Bonsu, the lead author of the report, and organizer with the advocacy group Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) adds, “This report shows that CPD’s  targeted surveillance of Black and Latinx people in Chicago is not only steeped in inaccuracies, but is likely unconstitutional and has real implications for people’s lives. But there’s still information that we don’t know and the City needs to be fully transparent about their policies and practices of this state-sanctioned profiling, and accountable for its adverse effects.”

The report includes information on:

  • The Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) increasing emphasis on “data-driven” policing

  • The ways that gang affiliation is documented and recorded by the CPD;

  • CPD policies regarding gangs in Chicago;

  • Demographic information on the race and gender of people labeled “gang affiliated”

  • The ways that the CPD shares information with federal law enforcement agencies, including DHS and the FBI;

  • Harms caused by the gang database to communities of color;

  • The consequences for U.S. born and immigrant Chicagoans for being labeled as gang members;

  • The campaign organizing against the gang database in Chicago; and

  • Recommendations to address the issues named in the report.

The report has been sent to Chicago Aldermen and other elected officials as part of a city-wide campaign to end the Chicago Gang Database. There are more than 128,000 people on the Chicago Gang Database.  A large majority of the list (95%) is Black and Latinx, disproportionately affecting communities of color. As this report highlights, approximately 11% of Chicago’s total Black population, 4% of the Latino population, and 0.6 %of the white population are in the gang database.

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The Campaign to Expand Sanctuary is a cross-issue interorganizational collaboration to defy, defend, and expand what it means for Chicago to be a Sanctuary City. The campaign pushes for the City to strengthen its protections for immigrants and refugees and address criminalization and police violence against Black people and communities of color. The campaign is anchored by Black Youth Project 100, Mijente, and Organized Communities Against Deportations. Read more at http://erasethedatabase.com/

CITY OF CHICAGO ADMITS ERROR IN IMMIGRANT FATHER’S INCLUSION IN GANG DATABASE

[12.6.17] After a settlement was reached between the City of Chicago and Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, organizers ask when the City review entire Gang Database process.

Chicago – Today Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez and his family announced that the City of Chicago has admitted error in including him in the “Gang Database,” a mistake which led Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s door during a nation-wide operation targeting suspected gang members.

As of the afternoon of December 5th, a letter has been attached to Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s record in the Chicago Police Department’s Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) System, which states that there is no proof in the database, and that he does not fit the definition of a gang member under state statute, including being “a person who actually and in fact belongs to a gang” (740 ILCS 147/10).

Mr. Catalan-Ramirez has been in immigration detention since March of this year and fighting his deportation in court. Although the City’s letter clears him of the gang allegations and has no objections to his relief, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has refused to release him.

“I am thankful for the letter that admits their mistake, but my family is still suffering the consequences” stated Celene Adame, Mr. Catalan Ramirez’s partner and mother of his two children. “If Wilmer’s name had not been on the Database, to begin with, immigration agents would not have raided our home, and we could be spending Christmas together,” she said. Ms. Adame has been a strong advocate against Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s detention and the Chicago Gang Database.

“Unfortunately once our community members are in the hands of immigration agents, we’re not sure whether we’ll get them back. Although we are glad to see that the City is willing to admit their mistake, it’s too little too late,” stated Xanat Sobrevilla, an organizer with Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD). “The City of Chicago needs to admit that there are systematic problems with the entire Gang Database, and as a start, stop putting names into this list, review its content, create avenues for people to seek their removal from the list, and work with our communities to find real ways to keep our neighborhood safe that do not rely on criminalization and policing,” she concluded.

The admission comes after organizers involved in the Campaign to Expand Sanctuary in Chicago published an analysis of Chicago’s Gang Database, showing that 96% of the nearly 65,000 people identified as potential gang members are Black or Latinx. Regarding that data, Janae Bonsu, the Policy Director of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and one of the students leading the research, stated: “The data shows that the Chicago Gang Database is a target list of Black and Brown people who will be the victims of immigration raids, of incarceration and criminalization, and further policing.”

Press release via OCAD

Chicago Gang Database Targets Black and Latino Men [Infographics]

[12/4/17] An analysis of the Strategic Subject List reveals that 96% of the people identified as suspected gang members by the Chicago Police Department are Black and Latinx.

(Chicago, Illinois) – In a recent analysis of the Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Subject List (SSL), a  tool used by the Chicago Police Departmentto predict who will be involved in gun violence, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) found that amongst those labeled as potential gang members 75% are Black and 21% are Latinos.

“The data shows that the Chicago Gang Database is a target list of Black and Brown people who will be the victims of immigration raids, of incarceration and criminalization, and further policing,” stated Janae Bonsu, the Policy Director of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and one of the students leading the research.

The research, under the direction of UIC Professor Andy Clarno, also revealed that there are 64,948  people in the Chicago area that are suspected to be gang affiliated. Out of the 64,948 people listed as having a gang affiliation, and 41.6% are Black males under 30. In addition, 67.5% have never been arrested for violent offenses or unlawful use of a weapon, and 20.9%  have never been arrested for violent offenses, unlawful use of a weapon, or narcotics. That means more than 13,500 people on the CPD gang database have never been arrested for the three principal activities that the CPD considers gang-related.

Being labeled as a suspected gang member has serious consequences for immigrant and U.S.-born, Black and Latino residents of Chicago. For immigrants, including Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, being on the gang database could mean being targeted for an immigration raid or deportation, as the lawsuit against the City of Chicago by Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez has highlighted. For U.S.-born Black and Latinx people, it could mean being disqualified from getting a job, being denied bond or given higher bonds in local courts, and increased criminal sentences.

“Having a list for immigration enforcement and police to target does not live up to the promise of a city that calls itself a ‘Sanctuary,’” stated Tania Unzueta, Policy Director of Mijente and one of the organizers against the Chicago Gang Database. “We urge City Council and the Mayor to eliminate this list and work on solutions for our communities that invest in resources and real solutions to reduce violence and invest in our neighborhoods” she concluded.

The release of this data coincides with the publication of another studyrelating to the other CPD list containing information on people identified as potential gang members, the Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis Reporting (CLEAR), which breaks down in a similar pattern, with 94% of the list comprised of Black and Latinx Chicagoans. 

In January 2017, BYP100, OCAD, and Mijente, launched a campaign to re-define what it means for Chicago to be a “Sanctuary City” to push forward community initiatives and municipal policies that increase community safety, specifically addressing the criminalization of U.S.-born and immigrant Black and Latinx people. In addition to eliminating the Chicago Gang Database, the campaign includes the removal of the carve-outs from Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, which exclude certain immigrants from protections from deportation provided by the city – including people in the Chicago Gang Database.

Chicago Gang Database: Facts and Figures

Policing in Chicago Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago
December 2017

In May 2017, the Chicago Police Department released a redacted version of its Strategic Subjects List (SSL) – a tool used by CPD to predict who will be involved in gun violence.  Each person receives a score of 1 to 500 based on individual arrest and victimization records as well as networks of known and suspected associates, with higher scores supposedly indicating a greater likelihood of involvement in gun violence.

The SSL includes a column indicating whether an individual is “gang affiliated.” Because the CPD does not publish information about its gang database, the SSL provides the most accurate available information about the CPD’s gang database.

Overall, nearly 400,000 people are on the SSL. 52% of people on the list are Black, 25% are Latinx, 45% are less than 30 years old, and 76% are male (Note: CPD uses binary gender codes). 285,000 people have scores greater than 250 – indicating that they are considered priority targets for the CPD. Yet 162,000 of these priority targets (57%) have not been arrested for the four crimes included in the SSL: violent offenses, unlawful use of a weapon, narcotics, or domestic violence.

  • 56% of Black men in Chicago ages 20-29 have an SSL score;
  • 46% of Black men and boys in Chicago ages 10-29 have an SSL score;
  • 73% of Black men and boys in West Garfield Park ages 10-29 have an SSL score.

Below is the breakdown of SSL scores for Black men under 30 in 13 neighborhoods with high arrest rates:

CCA # Name Arrest N census Area racial
makeup
SSL black
men <30
26 WEST GARFIELD PARK high 10 Black 72.9
40 WASHINGTON PARK high 8 Black 37.9
67 WEST ENGLEWOOD high 20 Black 49.2
69 GREATER GRAND CROSSING high 15 Black 45.0
25 AUSTIN high 24 Black 42.5
68 ENGLEWOOD high 14 Black 53.4
27 EAST GARFIELD PARK high 19 Black 47.1
29 NORTH LAWNDALE high 24 Black 48.3
33 NEAR SOUTH SIDE high 3 Mixed/Black 24.3
23 HUMBOLDT PARK high 17 Mixed/Hispanic 51.9
38 GRAND BOULEVARD high 20 Black 27.1

* These areas actually have more black men =<30 with SSL than census reported total number of black men age 10-34 (census reports age 30-34 as a chunk).

According to the SSL, nearly 65,000 people in the Chicago area are gang affiliated.  74.5% of people listed as “gang affiliated” are Black, 21.4% are Latinx, 60.7% are less than 30 years old, and 96.9% are male.  

Out of the 64,948 people listed as having a gang affiliation:

  • 72.7% are Black males. 1.8% are Black females;
  • 20.4% are Latinx males, 1% are Latinx females;
  • 41.6% are Black males under 30, and 14.4% are Latino males under 30;
  • 67.5% have never been arrested for a violent offense or unlawful use of a weapon;
  • 20.9% have never been arrested for a violent offense, unlawful use of a weapon, or narcotics

While gangs are often blamed for gun violence in Chicago, 67.5% of the people identified as “gang affiliated” on the SSL have never been arrested for violent offenses or unlawful use of a weapon. This raises important questions about how more than 43,000 people ended up on the CPD gang database. In fact, the CPD recently acknowledged that gang membership cannot predict participation in gun violence and therefore dropped gang affiliation from the current version of the SSL algorithm.

In addition, 20.9% of alleged gang members have never been arrested for violent offenses, unlawful use of a weapon, or narcotics. That means more than 13,500 people on the CPD gang database have never been arrested for the three principal activities that the CPD considers gang-related.

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Policing in Chicago Research Group is a workshop that brings faculty and students at UIC into conversation with community organizations in Chicago. Led by Dr. Andy Clarno, the research group is exploring the ways that advanced data analysis and coordination between local and federal law enforcement agencies have transformed policing in Chicago.

LIFE-SIZE GRAPHS BLOCKING STREETS OUTSIDE CITY HALL SHOW WHY CHICAGO IS NOT A SANCTUARY CITY FOR BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE

[10/10/17] The art installation and protests put a spotlight on the $95 million police academy proposed by the Mayor, the killing of Black and Brown youth by the Police Department, and the City’s role in contributing to deportations of immigrants and the criminalization of Black and Brown Chicagoans

#ExpandSanctuary #NoCopAcademy #SanctuaryforAll

Chicago, IL – Three life-size representations of statistics that show how Chicago and Mayor Emanuel have failed to live up to the claim of being a “Sanctuary” city and instead continue to uplift policies that center policing and incarceration, andfail to protect people from deportationsThe three structures, the tallest of which is a 12-foot bar graph, include:

Chicago City Budget: A bar graph that shows that for every dollar that the City of Chicago has allocated to the Police Department for 2017, there are 12 cents for the Department of Planning and Development, 2 cents for the Department of Public Health and 5 cents for the Department of Family and Support ServicesTo put this in context, the City of Chicago spends close to 40% of its budget on the Policing its residents, in addition to the $52 million that was paid by taxpayers for police misconduct in fees and fines in 2016.

Police deaths: A series of coffins and bodies to represent that 88% of the people hit or killed by the Chicago police between 2008 and 2015  are Black or brown.

The role of the Chicago Police Department’s Gang database has been brought to the forefront by the case of an immigrant father from Back of the Yards, Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, who has filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for its role in directing immigration enforcement to his door by wrongfully claiming that he is a gang member. Since then, a coalition of organizations has taken on the gang database, both as it relates to its effects on US-born and immigrant Chicagoans. For US-born Chicagoans, it can mean increased penalties and fine in courts, decreased employment opportunities, and being unable to benefit from government and state programs.

Tomorrow, the Chicago City Council will consider two policies related to policing and immigration enforcement. The first is an ordinance that would allocate $95 million to fund a new training academy for police. The mayor proposes the new academy to be opened in the same neighborhood where six schools were recently closed. A campaign calling for the rejection of the ordinance is calling for that money to instead be spent on schools, mental health centers, after-school and job-training programs, and investment in communities, instead of expanding resources for police.

The City Council will also vote and likely approve the Mayor’s “Dreamer’s Bill of Rights,” a resolution meant to affirm the status of Chicago as a welcoming community. Meanwhile, the Mayor and the City Council are under criticism by immigrant rights groups for their failure to strengthen the Welcoming City Ordinance and the role of the gang database in deportations.

Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) is a community-based organization in Illinois that organizes against unfair and inhumane immigration enforcement practices that impact immigrant communities.

Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35-year-olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people.

POLICE PUT IMMIGRANT FATHER IN GANG DATABASE AFTER TRAFFIC STOP

[9/18/17] Documents released to Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez’s family reveal the circumstances that led four Chicago Police Officers to identify the immigrant father of three as a gang member leading Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents (ICE) to raid his home and detain him. The four Chicago Police Officers named during these interactions were recently added to the ongoing federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago for their responsibility in the detention and potential deportation of Catalan-Ramirez.

Chicago, IL – Information regarding the four contact cards for Mr. Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez was released by federal court in an ongoing lawsuit showing that the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) are responsible for maintaining a gang database that lacks any due process, is arbitrary, and contains false information.

The contact cards contained the names of four police officers responsible for labeling Mr. Catalan Ramirez as a gang member, which led immigration agents to Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s home where he was taken and placed into deportation. Chicago Police Officers Ryan King, Tomas Rosales, Angel Colon, and Samuel Lopez, were recently added to Mr. Catalan Ramirez’s lawsuit against the City of Chicago as the individuals who “wrongfully labeled Mr. Catalan-Ramirez as a Chicago street gang member and included him in CPD’s Gang Database,” reads the amended complaint filed by the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

“The City of Chicago and those police officers are responsible for my husband’s detention  and separation from his children,” said Ms. Celene Adame, Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s partner and a member of Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD). “The Chicago Police judge how we dress, how we talk, where we live who we talk to, the color of our skin. Instead of investigating, they make assumptions about us and do not give us chances to defend ourselves by putting us on their lists,” she stated.

“Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department are directly responsible for Wilmer’s detention and for putting our community members at risk,” explained Xanat Sobrevilla, who has been working closely with Catalan-Ramirez’s family on behalf of OCAD since he was detained.“Actions of these police officers in Wilmer’s case show why the entire gang database needs to be reviewed and taken apart, particularly at a time when the Trump administration is using this information to target our communities,” she concluded.

The amended complaint includes specific information regarding the events that led Mr. Catalan-Ramirez to be placed in the Chicago Gang Database, and include that:

  • On June 16, 2015, CPD Officers Ryan King and Tomas Rosales approached Mr. Catalan-Ramirez while he was outside his home in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. According to the Officers, the reason for stopping Mr. Catalan-Ramirez was because he was loitering with another individual in a known Latin Saint street gang/narcotic area and an area of recent gang violence. As the lawsuit explains, Mr. Catalan-Ramirez was in actuality spending time with his friends and their children outside. The Defendant Officers subsequently filled out a contact card in which they labeled Mr. Catalan-Ramirez a Latin Saints gang member and entered his information into CPD’s Gang Database.
  • A subsequent entry in CPD’s gang database on November 21, 2016, lists Mr. Catalan-Ramirez as a Satan Disciple gang member. The Satan Disciples and the Latin Saints are rival gangs; both claim territory in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. On that day, Mr. Catalan-Ramirez was in his vehicle driving a few blocks from his home when CPD Officers Angel Colon and Samuel Lopez pulled him over for allegedly failing to stop at a stop sign. The Defendant Officers proceeded to arrest Mr. Catalan-Ramirez for failing to stop at a stop sign and driving on a suspended license. The Officers then entered Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s information into CPD’s gang database and labeled him as a Satan Disciple.

The amended lawsuit explains that the four CPD officers “wrongly assumed Mr. Catalan-Ramirez was a gang member because he was a young Latino who lived in a neighborhood that is considered to be gang territory.” It also points out that none of the officers gave Mr. Catalan-Ramirez a chance to look at any evidence against him or the chance to defend himself, and did not inform him of being listed as a suspected gang member by Chicago police.

Community organizations part of the Campaign to Expand Sanctuary are advocating for a review of the way in which Chicago Police officers identify individuals as gang members and how this information is shared with ICE and used to target individuals like Mr. Catalan Ramirez for deportation. Mr. Catalan-Ramirez is represented in the lawsuit by the Roderick and SolangeMacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Celene Adame, his partner and mother to their children, has been an outspoken advocate as part of the campaign to expose the workings of the Chicago Gang Database and in support of her husband. She is a member of OCAD.

Read the amended complaint below:

09 06 2017-Second Amended Complaint (1) by ilehlainat on Scribd

See Contact Cards from the Chicago Police Department Below

1 SKM_C224e17090618210-37-37 by ilehlainat on Scribd

2SKM_C224e17090618210-38-39 by ilehlainat on Scribd

3SKM_C224e17090618210-40-41 by ilehlainat on Scribd

4SKM_C224e17090618210-42-43 by ilehlainat on Scribd

COPS WHO PUT WILMER IN GANG DATABASE HAVE RECORD OF ABUSE

[9/20/17] Today OCAD is releasing the records of misconduct and abuse of  six law enforcement agentsresponsible for for wrongfully identifying Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, an immigrant father of 3 from the Back of the Yards neighborhood, as a potential gang member, leading Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to raid his home and take him into detention.

The records of the police officers are relevant because, without any checks and balances or due process, the Chicago Gang Database relies completely on the word of police officers. By continuing to ignore the problems of the gang database and the Chicago Police Department, the City of Chicago is a complicit partner in Trump’s deportation efforts and continues to lack protections for its residents.

The list of law enforcement agents involved in Mr. Catalan-Ramirez’s detention includes Commander Christoph Kennedy, Commander Alfred Nagode, as well as Police Officers Samuel Lopez, Angel Colon, Tomas Rosales, and Ryan King. The four police officers were added to the complaint against the City of Chicago at the start of the September.

According to their police records, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests by the Invisible Institute and information gathered through Chicago Reporter’s Settling for Misconduct database, together these officers:

  • Have a collective 60 reports of use of force measured by the number of Tactical Response Reports (TRR) in their records. Two of the officers, Lopez and Colon, each have 18 reports of use of force, putting them amongst the top 5% of Chicago police officers in reports for use of force.
  • Have been the subject of internal investigations or complaints by Chicagoans 58 times. Officer Ryan King accounts for 17 of those complaints, putting him within the top 11% of all officers with the highest number of complaints in Chicago.
  • Have cost the Chicago taxpayers $600,000 in payouts for settled court cases. Officer Lopez alone is responsible for $525,000 of those payouts, when he took part in chasing a 17 year old with autism into his family’s restaurant, “where they pushed his father to the ground and beat the young man in front of his parents.” According to the Chicago Reporter database, “Police threatened the family when they asked officers to explain what had happened.”

During two separate incidents, these four police officers identified Catalan-Ramirez as a member of two different and opposing gangs in the Back of the Yards community. As the amended lawsuit explains, the four CPD officers under the supervision of the two Commanders “wrongly assumed Mr. Catalan-Ramirez was a gang member because he was a young Latino who lived in a neighborhood that is considered to be gang territory.” It also points out that none of the officers gave Mr. Catalan-Ramirez a chance to look at any evidence against him or the chance to defend himself, and did not inform him of being listed as a suspected gang member by Chicago police.

The release of the documents is part of an on-going campaign to get Chicago to review the Chicago Gang Database processes and contents, including potential civil rights and constitutional violations. The groups are part of the Campaign to Expand Sanctuary in Chicago. Mr. Catalan-Ramirez is represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild in the lawsuit.

Police Officer’s Records

Records of Police Officers and Commanders Named in Gang Database Lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the law enforcement officers for their role in helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) erroneously identify Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez as a gang member, leading to the separation from his family and potential deportation. The records were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests and through research in the Chicago Reporter’s Settling for Misconduct database for Organized Communities Against Deportations and the Campaign to Expand Sanctuary in Chicago.

Commander Christoph Kennedy:

  • Rank: Commander
  • Appointed date: 6/29/92
  • Promoted to his current position: 12/16/08
  • Race: White
  • Age: 45
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 2
  • Percentile of all officers for use of force: 48.6%
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 2
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 26.6%
  • Court cases in which he is named and a settlement has been paid out: 0

Police Officer Samuel Lopez:

  • Rank: Police Officer
  • Appointed date: 10/29/07
  • Race: Hispanic
  • Age: 39
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 18
  • Percentile of all officers for use of force: 96.9%
  • Taser Use: 3
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 11
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 89.8%
  • Court cases in which he has been named and a settlement has been paid out: 1
  • Settlements and fees associated with the case: $525,000

Police Officer Angel Colon:

  • Rank: Police Officer
  • Appointed date: 12/5/05
  • Race: Hispanic
  • Age: 34
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 18
  • Percentile of all officers for use of force: 95%
  • Chemical weapons use: 1
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 12
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 87.3%

Police Officer Tomas Rosales:

  • Rank: Police Officer
  • Appointed date: 8/28/06
  • Race: Hispanic
  • Age: 46
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 9
  • Percentile of all officers for TRRs: 85.9%
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 6
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 69.3%

Police Officer Ryan King:

  • Rank: Police Officer
  • Appointed date: 10/28/02
  • Race: White
  • Age: 35
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 8
  • Percentile of all officers for TRRs: 78%
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 17
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 89.5%
  • Court cases he’s named in which a settlement was paid out: 1
  • Settlements and fees associated with the case: $75,000

Commander Alfred Nagode:

  • Rank: Commander
  • Appointed date: 12/5/88
  • Last promoted date: 9/16/07
  • Race: White
  • Age: 51
  • Gender: Male
  • Tactical Response Reports (TRRs): 5
  • Percentile of all officers for TRRs: 67.6%
  • Internal Investigations and Citizen Complaints (CRs): 10
  • Sustained CRs: 0
  • Percentile of all officers for CRs: 67.9%
  • Court cases he’s named in which a settlement was paid out: 0

What you need to know about Chicago’s ‘gang database’ and the lawsuit from local activists

Image from loveandstrugglephotos.com

By ALYXANDRA GOODWIN,  originally posted on Black Youth Project on 5/7/2017

In a “broken windows” fashion, the Chicago Police Department sustains a gang database of its residents. They say this is in efforts to stay ahead on crime. They also seek to punish those on the list to the fullest extent of the law when the opportunity presents itself.

As of last week, CPD and it’s gang database are at the center of a recent lawsuit after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the home of Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez. This happened after incorrect information about him surfaced through this database, identifying him as a gang member. Not only is the department being hit with a lawsuit, they will also be answering to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about how the database is used. The suit was filed on behalf of BYP100, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), and the MacArthur Justice Center.

Simply, the gang database is an excuse to justify further surveillance and excessive force against Black and Brown folks in this very sensitive time regarding citizenship.

Background on the lawsuit

On March 27, Catalan-Ramirez was dragged from his home after ICE officers asked his wife to identify a man from a photo they were looking for. That man wasn’t Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez. But, they pushed past his wife through their front door, guns drawn, took him and detained him anyway.

One of the biggest problems with this scenario is that it is unclear how Catalan-Ramirez ended up in the database. He has no known gang affiliations. The FOIA aims to answer that question and others such as: How does CPD share information with ICE? What processes are used to maintain the data and it’s accuracy? What are the demographics of people within the database? And, are there any civil rights complaints – internal or external – regarding those listed in the database?

In a joint press release from OCAD, BYP100 Chicago, and the MacArthur Justice Center, OCAD organizer Rosie Carrasco said “Every time that the Chicago Police Department shares information about any of us with immigration enforcement they are violating Chicago’s promise to be a Sanctuary City and to protect us from President Trump’s policies. The City of Chicago must look at how its policies not only criminalize people of color and feed us into Trump’s deportation machine.”

READ: FOIA and accompanying press release

Sanctuary Cities, legislative changes, and the increase in deportations

“Sanctuary Cities” have become a hot button issue around the country with the current president’s threats of deportation. A Sanctuary City limits it’s cooperation with the federal government around immigration and deportation. For cities like Chicago, that status is important to a large percentage of the population that identify as undocumented. This has major economic implications as we saw in February on A Day Without an Immigrant when over 50 Chicago businesses closed in support.

The threat to undocumented people is a part of a growing trend.

Barack Obama’s presidency marked higher numbers in deportations. That period is often framed as “A Shift from Returns to Removals”, meaning formally removing folks from the U.S. increased in comparison to prior administrations. The idea of returns focuses on individuals trying to enter the U.S. illegally from Canada or Mexico.

However, the immigration and deportation processes under Obama did not start with Obama.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act into law. Human Rights Watch says this law “eliminated key defenses against deportation and subjected many more immigrants, including legal permanent residents, to detention and deportation.” The IIRIRA criminalized immigrants by allowing the government to detain and deport them for a range of nonviolent criminal convictions. By September 11, 2001 the processes and tools under the IIRIRA were fully resourced and functioning to further criminalize Brown folks in America.

In 2002, the federal government signed agreements with local and state law enforcement agencies to give them powers of immigration enforcement locally. Then, in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established, increasing the number of ICE agents from 2,700 to 5,000. ICE is currently authorized to employ 21,000 agents with the current president looking to increase that number by 15,000.

One of those agreements between the federal government and local agencies is the gang database in Chicago. It is hard to track down information about the database’s origins or how many names are on it. But, this is something the FOIA will hopefully change and illuminate publicly.

How the gang database is being used today

The question emerges: how can ICE raid homes, detain, and deport people in the Sanctuary City of Chicago?

Well, individuals listed in the gang database are not protected by the sanctuary status of a city, of course.

Both the BYP100-Chicago chapter and OCAD are in coalition to expand the definition of sanctuary for Chicago residents. The goal: to further protect Black and Brown people targeted by police and state violence – undocumented or not.

This isn’t to amend or reform aspects of the gang database. The purpose is to eliminate it completely.

The MacArthur Justice Center notes that – nationwide – these databases are tools of racial profiling. Worse yet, they are often inaccurate. The gang database in Chicago is another justification used to harshly enforce law and order that upholds the oppressive interests of white supremacy. It also asserts white supremacist ideals as to who is good enough to stay within the U.S. and who the “bad hombres” are who should be criminalized, detained, and/or deported. Eliminating the gang database in Chicago will serve as an example of how to reverse policies and funding that have incrementally and violently challenged the livelihood of Black and Brown folks across the country.  

“If Chicago is serious about real sanctuary and ending criminalization for all it’s residents, releasing this information is a minimal step towards that end,” said Janae Bonsu, BYP100 National Public Policy Chair in the joint press release. “The gang database has allowed for the rampant targeting of Black and Brown people in Chicago with no accountability for too long. We’re requesting these data as a first step towards bringing the functions of the database out of obscurity,” she stated.