The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

CalGang Database:
An Excuse to Imprison Young Men

Mar 2, 2020

In January, LAPD announced that 20 officers of the “elite” Metro Division were pulled off the street because they were found to have falsely labeled people as “gang members” or “associates” and had entered their names into CalGang, California’s gang database.

The LAPD brass themselves should be questioned as to why it took them so long to “look into” the process of how individuals’ names are entered into the CalGang database. Not only had people targeted by cops been complaining to LAPD for years, but a state audit in 2016 had found that CalGang obviously had a lot of names in it that did not belong there, including 42 people who had been added to the list when they were less than one year old. CalGang currently has nearly 90,000 names in it.

The list is not even public; only certain cops have access to it—and police brass keep secret any information about the cops who make entries.

And a big majority of the people entered into CalGang don’t even know their names are there. As few as two “criteria” are enough to get you entered into CalGang. They include, for example, “being dressed like a gang member” and “being identified by a reliable source,” such as another cop!

Being in CalGang is also an almost sure way to be railroaded to prison. Police target names in the database for raids and arrests, and then use the person’s being in the database as an incriminating factor when charges are brought against the person!

This is the Los Angeles version of what has been going on in U.S. cities for decades, under such names as “broken windows policing” or “stop and frisk.” Former LAPD Deputy Chief Dennis Kato explained that people ended up on CalGang because: “We look for black men between the ages of 18 and 24 who look like gang members.

It’s a way to railroad young black and Latino men into prison—a racist “solution” the authorities use to justify locking up young working-class men, for whom this capitalist society holds out neither jobs, nor hope.