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Inside the Gang Database

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By: Dave Biscobing

PHOENIX — “ACAB” was never a real criminal street gang in Phoenix.

But as part of an effort to overcharge and suppress a group of police protesters, city officers and county prosecutors made it up in late 2020.

The fictional gang, an acronym for the common protest chant “All Cops are Bastards,” was created by officials using wild exaggerations, lies, and an informant with a documented history of lying.

Despite those problems, 17 protesters were officially documented as members of “ACAB” and added to Arizona’s gang database, according to records obtained by ABC15.

Officials declined to answer whether the falsely-accused people have been removed from the database.

“I think it really shows that this is a strategy being used and being abused by law enforcement to criminalize targeted groups, whether they are communities of color, low-income communities, or political protesting communities,” said Sen. Martin Quezada, a Phoenix Democrat.

On October 17, 2020, Phoenix police arrested a group of protesters, who were then indicted on criminal street gang charges.

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Following the indictment, officers completed “Gang Member Information Cards,” or GMICs, for 17 of the protesters. GMICs are used to enter people into a statewide database called “GangNet.”

GangNet is managed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and police departments across the state have access to the database.

ABC15 obtained copies of the GMICs for the protesters.

Each of them are two pages. Many are hand-written. The cards contain each defendant’s personal information, including their name, address, phone number, email, Social Security number, picture, tattoos, and details about their alleged gang membership.

The group’s gang name was documented as “ACAB” and designated as an “extremist” group with “violent tendencies.”

In the notes section of most of the GMICs, it stated: “(Defendant) was part of a group that took over the city streets in downtown Phoenix and marched in the streets chanting, ‘ACAB, all cops are bastards.’ The members of this group wore primary all black clothing and possessed black umbrellas.”

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