The Chicago Police Department (CPD) says that Luis Pedrote-Salinas is in a gang.
They are so sure he is in a gang that they put him in a database that they share with immigration officials. Immigration agents then raided his home in the dark of night, arrested him, and he spent six months in a Texas prison all because a Chicago police officer says he is a member of the Latin Kings gang.
Now Pedrote is facing deportation--leaving the only home he remembers, his advancing sales career, his family, his church--because a CPD officer alleged he’s a gang member.
But Pedrote has never been in a gang. He’s never even been convicted of a crime.
There is no logical reason to believe that Pedrote is a member of a gang. He is family oriented and attended Chicago Public Schools, graduated a student-athlete with good grades, and has steadily held down a job. When he was the victim of an armed burglary in 2012 he was fully cooperative with the police.
No judge or jury has ever looked at evidence and said Pedrote is a gang member, but since 2011 he has been paying the price. Pedrote, a Mexican immigrant, is one of many Latino and Black men in Chicago who have been targeted based on their race and ethnicity and placed on this gang list, which comes with grave consequences.
Pedrote has also been rejected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), even though he should qualify for the program that gives temporary relief to some immigrants who arrived at an early age. He was also turned down for a U-Visa--issued to crime victims who have suffered mentally or physically and are willing to cooperate with local police.
The City of Chicago and members of the police department have denied Pedrote--and many other residents--their constitutional right to due process through this gang database. Although this has been a ‘sanctuary city’ since 2006, the Chicago Police Department has shared this information with various immigration agencies.
The City of Chicago and members of the police department have also violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act which should protect him against discrimination based on his race or ethnicity. Given the facts of the case, no reasonable person could find any reason the Pedrote would be marked as a gang member had Chicago Police officers not been targeting Latino and Black men.
For these violations of his rights, for monetary loss, and his physical and emotional damages, Pedrote, a long-time client of Shiller Preyar Law Offices (SPLO), has filed a federal lawsuit against CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, the City of Chicago, and several other members of the CPD for his right to a fair trial by a jury of his peers.
In January 2011 19-year-old Pedrote was leaving his cousin’s house to go home, but when he got to the car, the Chicago police were there--and they saw an unopened can of beer in his cupholder. They arrested him, but the charges were later thrown out. Pedrote started to move on with his life, not knowing that the police were out that night on a “gang suppression” mission and that he now had that red flag on his file.
Eight months later, at 1:00 a.m. Luis Pedrote-Salinas woke up to immigration agents in his home demanding to know where his cousin was. His father was soon in handcuffs, and his mother and six year old brother were hiding in the bathroom, terrified. Agents arrested Pedrote on CPD information that he was part of the Latin Kings gang, even though he lived in rival gang territory. Their evidence was nothing more than a handwritten note from an officer. With misinformation flowing from office to office, he was transported to McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility.
A week and a half later, Pedrote was transferred to Rolling Plain Correctional Facility in Texas, where he was locked in his cell for 22 hours a day. During his daily two hours out of his cell he faced inmates who harassed him about his race and ethnicity.
In his six month stay at the detention center, Pedrote developed a severe infection. He continuously put in requests for medical attention. For three weeks his requests were ignored. He was scared, alone, helpless, and phone calls were so expensive this family man could only call home once a week.
Finally, Pedrote was released on bond. He returned home to his family and quickly got a job working at a Subway restaurant on the Southwest side of Chicago. On June 9, 2012 a man armed with a semiautomatic weapon came into the store, pointed it at the workers, and stole the money from the cash register. Pedrote complied with the police on the investigation fully.
A few years later, Pedrote, having been denied DACA due to his supposed gang connections, applied for a U-Visa. To get this kind of visa, CPD had to certify that he was a victim of a crime. CPD denied his request, stating that the physical restaurant was the victim, not the workers who had the gun pointed in their faces.
Had the Chicago Police officer never written “Latin King” next to Pedrote’s name he may have been spared this cruelty. But even if there was enough evidence that he is in a gang, or that anyone else on the list is, he still has the right to due process by law.
People accused of a crime have constitutional rights. At Shiller Preyar we think everyone should mind the law, including the government, and we’re here to hold them to it.
Section 1 of the Fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads;
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This is part 1 in a multi-part series on the Chicago Police Gang Database and Shiller Preyar client Luis Pedrote-Salinas. Follow our Facebook page and Twitter for the next installment.
Blog Author: Christina Pillsbury