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Wichita reaches settlement in gang list lawsuit pending council approval

Hugo Phan

The federal suit filed in 2021 said the police department's gang list targeted people of color.

The City of Wichita has reached a settlement with the ACLU of Kansas and Kansas Appleseed in a federal lawsuit regarding the police department’s gang list.

The agreement awaits the City Council’s approval at its meeting on Tuesday.

“Due to the uncertainty and risk of an adverse judgment at trial, the Law Department recommends the settlement,” a city document reads. The document also said, “The settlement of this claim does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the City … ”

As part of the settlement, the Police Department will create a way for members of the public to review whether they are on the gang list. It also will create an appeals process for a person if they think they were wrongfully placed on the list.

Plaintiffs alleged in the lawsuit that the list disproportionately targets individuals of color: The ACLU’s analysis of data provided by the department shows that 60% of the individuals on the list are Black and about a quarter are Latino.

The lawsuit was filed in 2021 on behalf of the juvenile justice nonprofit Progeny and several people included on the list of alleged gang members and gang associates. The plaintiffs were granted class-action status late last year in an effort to represent the more than 5,000 people who were on the list.

According to the suit, people were put on the list without notice or without criminal charges being filed. The complaint said people on the list are subject to heightened surveillance and face higher bail bond costs and stricter probation and parole terms.

The plaintiffs will also receive $550,000 to settle all claims against the city, and for legal fees, if the agreement is approved by the council.

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.