South-Central Los Angeles was hell in the late 1980s. Poverty was rampant, housing deplorable, and graffiti scarred almost every edifice. Drugs and gangs begot drive-by shootings and daylight robberies. Yet for some in that topsy-turvy world, the criminals were heroes, and cops were the enemy.
Sen. Mee Moua's controversial proposal to prohibit law-enforcement agencies from maintaining gang databases came before the Senate's State and Local Government Operation and Oversight Committee on Friday afternoon. Supporters and detractors of the measure were primed for a debate. Deputies from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office and community activists concerned about police misconduct filled the committee room.