Community leaders, lawmakers oppose 'gang bill'

House Bill 169 is often referred to as the "gang bill." (Source: WAVE 3 News)
House Bill 169 is often referred to as the "gang bill." (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Apr. 11, 2018 at 5:03 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2018 at 6:45 PM EDT
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Senator Gerald Neal. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Senator Gerald Neal. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sadiqa Reynolds. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sadiqa Reynolds. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The ACLU and the Louisville Urban League stood side by side with community leaders in a press conference Wednesday morning. The groups made a last-ditch effort to persuade the state senate not to pass House Bill 169, also known as the "gang bill."

"We cannot afford this bill financially and we can't afford this bill morally," Michael Aldridge, Executive Director for ALCU-KY, said.

"They have not looked at the collateral damage of sometimes narrowly focusing on something and not doing the proper research to determine what it means," Senator Gerald Neal (D - District 33) said.

The legislation will allow those affiliated with gangs to face tougher punishment for crimes.

Supporters believe it'll work by combating growing gang issues in the state. Mayor Greg Fischer agreed.

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"It's important that the most violent people are removed from the street and that the most violent people don't go down a life of crime," Mayor Fischer said.

However, those at Wednesday's presser believe the bill will disproportionately target people in black and brown communities.

Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds testified in Frankfort about the issue and listened closely to those supporting the legislation.

"There were basically three things they needed in order for this to be successful," Reynolds said. "One had to do with policing, one had to do with prisons, the other had to do with wrap around services."

Reynolds said what is missing are services to make sure people are successful, as well as evidence that the bill would work without solely targeting minorities and the disenfranchised.

"The Louisville Urban League is opposed to violence," Reynolds said. "We are opposed to gangs. That being said, we are also opposed to legislation that is not smart."

The senate goes back into session on Friday. The bill can be voted on anytime time between then and Saturday. If passed, it will move to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.

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