Thursday, August 09, 2012


Parents are justifiably outraged to find that their children have been added to various lists as Florida gang members even when the youths are not troubled nor troublesome. The secret lists are used for 'investigative purposes' by prosecutors and law enforcement even when Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys establish that the the lists are not supported by trustworthy factual evidence.
In Florida Police Agencies can affix the tag of gang membership on unsuspecting youths even if they've never committed a crime, never joined a gang nor been found to have committed any uncharged misconduct. 
According to news reports the gang affiliation can be established by the police in the following ways:

  1. By being identified as gang members by their parents.
  2. By adopting a gang style of dress.
  3. By use of hand signals identified with gangs or 
  4. By associating with known gang members.

Apparently Tampa Bay police departments spend far too much free investigative time combing thru Facebook, Twitter and other social media cites, searching for personal information such as useful pictures that will establish gang membership or gang affiliation. 
If there's one 'known gang member' at your child's school, church or gym, then your child associates with known gang members. And  if one child is listed as an associate of gang members, then all of his friends and friends of friends and family must be as well.  So every youth who wears his pants a little low, listens to the latest music and uses the hand signals of the NBA is somehow a gang member or gang associate? What are these Detectives really looking for on their computers? They're simply searching and finding minority children who don't share the officer's cultural values. And now it has even come to light that the FBI lists fans of a certain heavy metal or rap bands as gang members.
Are Florida police grooming children to become criminals by placing them on lists of gang members?
Van Gogh, Portrait of Camille, 1888
Are the police simply grooming these youths to assume the future role as criminals for the benefit of arresting police officers. It's wrong and it should make not only the parents of youth unjustifiably placed on these lists very angry, but all of us angry about what this means about our community.
The Largo Police Department defends it's extensive list of gang members told outraged Largo parents that there are over 500 gang members in Largo. That's a ridiculous number of children targeted as gang members for a very small Florida city. As the list in time will encompass every child in the city, wouldn't it be easier and fairer to just list them all as gang members now and be done with it? 

Certainly, your Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer believes that would be fairer than simply listing all the minority children as gang members or gang associates, putting each of them at greater risk of being subjected to inappropriate police contact, because they're already suspects in the eyes of the Largo Police Department.