The Justice X Law Group is suing the Los Angeles Police Department, alleging Black and Latinx men and women are being mislabeled as gang members.
The Black and Brown plaintiffs claim they are being criminalized under unwritten and written policies by the city’s police department, the Los Angeles Sentinel reported.
“At the age of 18, I was thrown into a situation where police took me from my house,” said Branden Costas. “I was facing a life sentence for something I didn’t see happen.”
For “individuals who have been misidentified as gang members—the financial and economic disadvantage is incalculable,” said the Aug. 6 article.
“We’re talking about the criminalization of people who are living in a certain neighborhood. What they (police) are saying is just because you hang around certain people, you’re a gang associate,” said attorney Christian Contreras.
“If you instill fear on someone, there can be no equality in justice with fear. We fear the criminal justice system; we fear the police and they know it,” said Stephen King, co-founder of the Justice X Law Group. “They are taking away our abilities to earn a living for (our) families.”
Thousands of Black and Latinx people may have been affected by this misclassification, noted the law group. “There are over 20 police off icers under investigation and 57 charges,” according to the article.
“These cops will pay,” said King. “They know what they are doing is wrong. …They are trying to take away what we’re trying to build,” he told reporters at a news conference.
“This lawsuit is huge,” said civil rights attorney Austin R. Dove. “It is one of the biggest lawsuits that we ever landed in the city of Los Angeles, and it speaks to the heart of the corruption that has destroyed and devastated so many Black (and Brown) men and women. It’s more widespread than people think.”
The Justice X Law Group is committed to helping change a system it believes is failing minorities, the article reported.
“They think they are above everybody and they can mistreat everybody else because they have a badge,” said attorney Humberto Guizar about some of the mentality within the department.