Extra resources for students of State and Local Government 180, an upper-division GE class in the Government Department at Sacramento State University
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle: Appeals court upholds North Oakland gang injunction
Appeals court upholds North Oakland gang injunction
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco ChronicleNovember 1, 2011 05:05 PM
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OAKLAND -- Oakland's hotly debated gang injunctions have passed their first legal test.
A state appeals court ruled Monday that a judge's June 2010 order limiting the movements and contacts of 15 alleged gang members in a 100-square-block area of North Oakland, and subjecting them to a 10 p.m. curfew, did not punish them for innocent conduct or violate their rights of speech or association.
"Credible evidence supports the (judge's) conclusion that (North Side Oakland) is a criminal street gang" whose activities have interfered with the public's right to use the area peacefully, said the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
City attorneys presented statements from 96 police officers who witnessed the gang's activities, along with crime records and expert assessments that provided "compelling evidence of ... the detrimental effect the gang has had on the community," the court said.
California cities have increasingly used injunctions to target gangs in specific neighborhoods since the state Supreme Court upheld them in 1997.
An injunction names alleged gang members and prohibits them, with limited exceptions, from meeting in the neighborhood, possessing guns or illegal drugs, or defacing property. The 10 p.m. curfew allows them to go out only for work, school, religious worship or a commercial entertainment event. Violators can be jailed for contempt of court.
Opponents say the injunctions require little proof of gang membership or activity, penalize youths for innocent conduct and encourage racial profiling.
Oakland's City Council has been closely divided on the issue and has approved only two gang injunctions, the June 2010 order in North Oakland and an order last month against five alleged members of the Norteño gang in 2 square miles of the Fruitvale district.
City Attorney Barbara Parker, who defended the injunction obtained by her predecessor, John Russo, said Tuesday that it appears to be working.
"Injunctions are by no means a cure for all gang activity, but it's promising that the 15 men named in this order have not been arrested for any new crimes in the North Oakland zone" since June 2010, Parker said in a statement.
A defense lawyer in the case was unavailable for comment.