Minnesota has changed its guidelines for adding people to a list of gang members, which is used by law enforcement.
Two years ago state lawmakers appointed the Violent Crime Coordinating Council to hold public meetings and develop new guidelines for adding people to the database. Minnesota Public safety Commissioner Mona Dohman has now approved the new guidelines.
The council's chairman, St. Paul Commander Ken Reed, said the rules are an improvement.
"The net cast of the old criteria may have been too broad in terms of association with gang members or suspected gang members," Reed said. "And what the new criteria made clear is that association just by simply being in the same workplace with an individual who may be a gang member does not make the second person a gang member."
But critics, including University of St. Thomas professor Nekima Levy-Pounds, say the new guidelines do not address residents' fundamental concerns about how the database creates disparities.
"I'm deeply disappointed by the outcome," Levy-Pounds said. "I believe that the Violent Crime Coordinating Council did what they thought was right, but when you compare their proposal to what the community recommended, you definitely see a huge gap."
In meetings with the council, African-American community members said they were concerned teenagers were being labeled as gang members because of their clothing or the classmates they spent time with. People said there was a lack of parental notification or due process for being included in the database.
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