The City of Wichita, located in Kansas, together with their police department, was sued due to allegations that their “Gang List” was being used to discriminate against individuals
Progeny Kansas, an advocacy group, filed a class action against Wichita’s police department in April 2021 at a Kansas federal court.
The lead plaintiff, together with Christopher Cooper, Martel Costello, Elbert Costello, and Jeremy Levy, Jr., attested that the police department used their Gang List to discriminate against communities of color.
In particular, the lawsuit alleged that the list was used against individuals and communities belonging to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residing in Wichita.
The plaintiffs believed that the police’s actions violated the rights of the individuals involved.
The class action lawsuit aims to represent individuals in the Gang List belonging to BIPOC or any other racial minority group.
Wichita’s Gang List
According to the class action lawsuit, the city’s police force uses its power to nominate any individual residing in the city to be included in the Gang List. It argues the police did not provide any evidence or reason to support why the individual should be added to the list.
The Wichita Gang List class action lawsuit claims that the police did not identify any clear distinction or criteria on who can be added to the Gang List. It adds that almost all residents can be added to the list because the criteria used are too vague.
The plaintiffs declared that the enforcers only used six broad criteria to determine which individuals to add to the list. The requirements included individuals who wear gang colors, individuals who go to places known as gang areas, and individuals linked with gang members.
They added that as long as an individual could meet at least three of the six criteria used by the police, their names can be added to the Gang List.
The lead plaintiff contended that the city’s police department did not notify individuals if their names were included on the list.
They also insisted that the department did not provide individuals with any options to question why their names were added.
The lawsuit maintains that this action is unfair and violates the individual’s rights because once their names are added to the list, it will appear on their records. Their names will always be associated with being in a gang, even if this is false.
It adds that individuals whose names were added will experience multiple consequences, including fewer opportunities to file for pleas, limited bail, parole and probation terms, discrimination during trials, significant harm to their reputation, and employment discrimination.
These effects can significantly impact an individual’s rights and life, especially if added to the list without enough evidence.
The class action argues that the police specifically takes advantage of the list to target members of the BIPOC community since 24% of the individuals on the Gang List belong to this community.
Despite making up most of Wichita’s population, white residents only comprise 6% of the list.
Editor’s Note on Wichita Gang List Lawsuit:
This article is published to inform you of the latest class action lawsuit filed against Wichita’s police department due to their use of the Gang List.
Case Name & No.: Progeny Kansas, et al. v. City of Wichita, Kansas, et al. 6:21-cv-01100-EFM-ADM, US District Court for Kansas
Products/Services: Wichita’s Gang List
Allegations: The city’s police department allegedly abuses its power to add individuals’ names to the Gang List
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