In a press conference yesterday, a group of local leaders led by the ACLU and the Urban League called on the Kentucky legislature to reject HB 169, the so-called “gang bill.”
The bill, which would lower the standards for what constitutes a gang while at the same time raising the punishments for certain crimes identified in the bill, would disproportionately affect communities of color in its implementation, according to the speakers.
They pointed to a similar bill in Mississippi, where statistics showed that while 50% of the state’s “gang members” were white, only African-Americans were ever arrested and prosecuted under the law.
Multiple groups across the state have pointed out that the bill is not based on any proven crime-prevention research, and in fact goes against what has been shown to work in other locations. Instead, it is an opportunity for legislators to show they are “tough on crime” while not actually doing anything to solve the problem.
State Senator Gerald Neal noted that the bill only has one more step to be passed: a final vote in the state Senate. He urged everyone to “call, call, call” their legislators to oppose the bill.
The attached video is of the press conference, as live-streamed by Forward Kentucky.