The NYPD uses its Criminal Group Database (the “Gang Database”) to tag tens of thousands of Black and Latino New Yorkers as members of “street gangs” with little or no justification. These “gangs” are often small, informal groups of young people linked by their home or school (i.e., their family and friends). The Database contains staggering racial disparities: 99% of people in the Gang Database are Black or Latino.

Approximately 16,000 New Yorkers are on the Database’s “active list,” while tens of thousands more are included in the Database’s “inactive” list.

People can be added to the Database even if they have never committed or been accused of a crime. The NYPD often adds people based on stereotypes and generalizations, like their presence in a certain location or their clothing. Some are added with no justification at all. People have been added based on vague descriptions of social media posts or graffiti, without any indication of how it relates to alleged gang activity.

The Gang Database causes a variety of harms to New Yorkers, including:

  • Increased surveillance in public places and online.
  • Heightened police encounters.
  • Harsher court outcomes.
  • Families being forced from their homes.
  • ICE detention and deportation.

Cities like Chicago and Portland have already abolished their gang databases. It’s time for New York to catch up.

Int. 798, sponsored by Council Member Althea Stevens, would abolish the Gang Database and prevent successor databases from taking its place. It requires the City to notify people who were added, and inform them of how to request records about their inclusion. It also creates a private right of action, and requires the City to create a public awareness campaign to educate New Yorkers about their rights.