Sacramento prosecutors who specialize in gang cases report an alarming trend: Some gang members are shooting at people who only look like rivals, says the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento County prosecutors call the attacks “profiling,” saying gang members lash out at people based on the colors they wear, the style of their hair, or the neighborhood they live in. (“Profiling” usually refers to racial discrimination by law enforcement.) “They are shooting people who they perceive to be in an enemy gang – and sometimes they’re wrong,” said Rod Norgaard, gang unit supervising district attorney. “To have kids shot at or have kids profiled – whether it’s true or not – is kind of tragic.”
Prosecutors say many of the victims are teens caught mixing in the wrong crowds. In some cases, people were targeted for wearing the wrong color -blue or red – in the wrong neighborhood. Defense attorneys question the way police “validate” people as being gang members in the first place. A person is validated if an officer confirms at least two of nine indicators of gang involvement, including admission of membership, tattoos, and committing certain crimes, Public Defender Linda Parisi said. “Whenever one is relying on stereotypes to make accusatory determinations, you’re on a dangerous course,” she said.