Who We Are
The Grassroots Advocates for Neighborhood Groups & Solutions (GANGS) Coalition is made up of organizers, experts, legal advocates, and directly impacted community members that seek to abolish surveillance and criminalization tools predicated on association, including gang or crew labels.
The Coalition’s goal is to dismantle systems that increase surveillance, and/or police contact, or enhance punishment based on law enforcement profiling of Black, Latinx and immigrant communities as gang or crew members. Central to eliminating the use of these tools is the redirecting of resources away from the police department and prosecutors and towards harm-reducing, community-based programs that are proven to make neighborhoods safer.
American gang policing has its roots, at least as far back as the opposition towards the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Young Black and Latinx people formed street organizations to build up their community while protecting themselves against police violence. Over the years, thanks in part to suppression tactics both by local police departments and the federal government, some groups engaged in destructive behaviors.
Police and media seized upon those examples to demonize associations among Black and Latinx people and create a moral panic amongst the public that claimed these groups were dangerous organized crime syndicates. Eventually, law enforcement began to utilize conspiracy laws, most famously the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, to prosecute them the same ways they had once done with the Italian mafia.