Did New York Police Use Color Code In Making Gang Arrests?


Since last week's Puerto Rican Day Parade, many New Yorkers are seeing the colors black and yellow as social signifiers, says the New York Times. They are the markers of the Latin Kings, a group the police consider a violent street gang. When the police arrested 208 people at the parade on June 10, all but 10 of them said to be gang members, mostly Latin Kings, the colors some were wearing turned out to be a strike against them. Why would the Latin Kings choose to out themselves this way? “I think with the Kings it's defiance; it shows resistance and autonomy,” said David Brotherton, a sociologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a co-author of “The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation,” which is the full name of the national group. “They see the world as a powerless place, and they're speaking back to power.”

The Latin Kings say wearing the colors is a matter of cultural pride and identity, and little different from the Greek letters used by a fraternity or, for that matter, the blue uniforms of the New York Police Department. Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who has been advising some of those arrested, said, “In our criminal justice system, the premise is that you are arrested for your conduct, not for your status.” Paul Browne, a police spokesman, said the police used a number of factors – gang databases, colors, signing, chanting and “self-describing” – to determine who was a gang member. He said police arrested people based only on conduct, and that affiliation with a gang was incidental.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/nyregion/18colors.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin

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