by We’Ced Youth Media
Editor’s Note: CalGang is a non-public database that started as a way to help Los Angeles law enforcement keep track of gang members and affiliates. Due to its ‘success’ it has expanded to cover all of California. There is now an estimated 200,000 individuals in the CalGang database, some as young as 10 years old. There is no notification to the individual once they are registered in the database and the criteria for inclusion has been highly criticized. Senate Bill 458 is being discussed in California’s legislature, which would grant parents notification if their underage child is registered in CalGang. After a hearty discussion around the database and what it could mean for young people in Merced, We’Ced had some insights to share on the matter.
Diego Sandoval, 18
It could be really easy to end up in the CalGang database in Merced because I like to think that even though we consider Merced ghetto in a way, we all sort of get along, gangsters talk to skaters and so on. It’s easy to be labeled for the way you dress or who you talk to.
I don’t even think that should be questionable if someone is under 18 and they are put in the database then their parents should be notified no matter the circumstances. If it were my child, I would like to know and would have a right to!
Emily Castrigno, 17
Getting put in the CalGang database could have nothing to do with an individual’s affiliation and could be an issue of simply living in the wrong neighborhood, going to the wrong school or being related to the wrong people. So I think it could be very easy to be recorded as a gang member in Merced.
It should be everyone’s right to know what the government labels him or her as. This is America, land of the free, man! It is a violation of rights, especially with minors.
Alyssa Castro, 20
As a young person living in Merced, where gang culture is common, I think it is definitely easy for someone to end up in the CalGang database.
I do believe parents of underage children should be notified if their child is added to the databse. I think anyone added to the database should be notified. People should have the right to know who is putting what information about them out there.
Jjakoba Starr Predmore, 17
I think it is extremely easy to end up in the CalGang database living in Merced. Over half the people I know are gang-related in some way or other and it seems that the criteria for being put in the database are very minimal.
I do not think parents should be notified if their child is in the CalGang database. I think the individual person who is in the database should be notified.
Fernando Almaraz, 17
I will say it depends on who you affiliate yourself with and why you could consider them as “friends,” or it can also be as simple as a casual friendly encounter. From what I have seen and experienced, the cops know what is happening and who is gang related and who is not.
I believe that parents should be notified if their child is in the CalGang database. They have the right to know and if the child was to be affiliated with gangs, the parents could take immediate action and try to find a solution to the problem. Even though the government is not perfect, it is trying to fix itself by passing laws for the betterment of we the people.
Lisbeth Vasquez, 16
I think it would be easy to end up in the CalGang database living in Merced because I think people right away think you are in a gang just by your physical appearance and who you hang out with. For example, my boyfriend Adrian told me that a few months ago, he and his brother were walking and out of nowhere they were stopped and asked where they were going. They were just walking but I guess since his brother is full of tattoos they looked like gangbangers. Another example would be when my friends and I used to walk from Golden Valley to her house by the fairgrounds. One day, one of the El Nido teachers saw me and asked me where was I going. She asked what I was doing on the bad side of Merced and to not be doing anything bad. I was in the wrong just because I was on the wrong side of Merced.
I think some parents are unaware of what their children do, maybe because they work a lot. They should be aware of what is going on with their kid.