Meet Larry: A Gang Intervention Worker and Singer. Why is he labeled as a gang member?

Larry formal picture.jpg

UPDATE - October 3, 2019 - UPI has learned from the Los Angeles City Attorney Office that Larry Sanders has been removed from California’s gang database.  UPI’s legal team is proud of this victory, but more work must be done to prevent the unjust inclusion of people of color on CalGang.

Larry Sanders can often be found joking with youth and managing the grill at Green Meadows Park while working to creating a community of peace, positivity, and laughter in South Los Angeles. Larry, often known by his rap name, “LV”, is also an accomplished singer who provided the iconic vocals for Coolio’s hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” and has lived his whole life in the community.

Each summer, Larry works with UPI’s partners Chapter TWO, and the GRYD’s Summer Night Lights program, to keep the park open after dark with activities for families to discourage seasonal spikes in violence. But this commitment didn’t stop law enforcement from questioning Larry and his friends one evening at the very park he works in to promote peace. The interaction didn’t result in any charges, but he later received notification that he was added to California’s gang database.

“It was a big shocker. It is horrific accusing me of being something that I am not. It is a cold feeling,” described Larry.

UPI’s attorneys have been helping Larry appeal this unjust labeling on the CalGang database. Our case has been featured on NBC News online, and by Spectrum 1 in video below. Larry’s story unfortunately highlights the overly broad and often unjust labeling of people of color through California’s gang database.

UPI also recently produced a comprehensive report, Analysis of the Attorney General’s Annual Report on CalGang for 2018, to inform gang database reform advocates around the county.

Larry is looking forward to the day when he will no longer be on the CalGang databse. “It will be a relief of a burden. I am still being harassed by the police,” he described his ordeal.

Despite these challenges, Larry has not wavered in his commitment to creating safety in his neighborhood. “I am still going to work with youth and be dedicated to making my community better and safer,” states Larry.

Larry joking with one of the youth workers at the Green Meadows Summer Night Lights site.

Larry joking with one of the youth workers at the Green Meadows Summer Night Lights site.

Larry managing the grill with neighborhood youth.

Larry managing the grill with neighborhood youth.

Caitlin KosecComment