Mississippi could set penalties for luring people into gangs

Published: Feb. 7, 2018 at 2:53 PM CST
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The Mississippi Senate has voted to set penalties for people who lure others into gang activities.

Republican Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula says Wednesday that gang investigators are requesting the change.

Several black senators raised concerns that new penalties could be used to punish African-Americans who are not in any kind of gang.

Senate Bill 2868 identifies gang members as at least three people involved in criminal activity who identify themselves by a common name, slogan, tattoo or other physical marking; a common style or color of clothing or hair; and a shared hand sign or gesture.

Democratic Sen. Willie Simmons of Cleveland says African-Americans who are "just everyday good folks" often use similar clothing or hand gestures.

Senators voted 35-14 to pass the bill, which goes to the House.