Gang Injunction - History


While Los Angeles experimented with gang injunctions in the 1980s, the first gang injunction to make headlines was obtained by Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn against the West Los Angeles-based Playboys Gansta Crip in 1987. The move was hailed as an innovative way for law enforcement to crack down on gangs, allowing people to regain control of their neighborhoods. In 1993, the Los Angeles City Attorney's office filed for another injunction, this time against 500 members of the Blythe Street Gang of Panorama City. The American Civil Liberties Union joined other groups in opposing the injunction, arguing that it would outlaw such legal activities as carrying on conversations and possessing tools like pocket knives and screwdrivers, and that it would lead to injustices against people whose identity had been mistaken. The injunction was issued despite the efforts against it. It was followed by injunctions in the cities of San Jose, Burbank, San Diego, Westminster, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, Modesto and Oxnard.

In the reality of the community members, at times injunctions are called progroms adapted from the Russian use of it in where violent mobs attack a minority group. In these cases the Police and SWAT being the violent mob and the communities of color being the minority groups. It is called this for the reason that non affiliated gang members or even people who have no connection to gangs are highly also targeted.

In Los Angeles today, under current City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, there are 37 gang injunctions covering 57 gangs and 11,000 gang members in the City of Los Angeles. Many attribute the 33% decline in gang membership in L.A. over the past five years (from 57,000 members in 2001 to roughly 39,000 members today) to the effective use of civil gang injunctions by City law enforcement officials.

In 2010, the State of California surpassed the 150 gang injunction mark. The historical and legal progression of all California gang injunctions to date can be reviewed in the CRC publication Gang Injunctions and Abatement: Using Civil Remedies to Curb Gang Related Crimes. The history of the gang injunction began on July 22, 1982, when the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Los Angeles Police Department obtained a temporary restraining order against three named gangs; the Dogtown, Primera Flats, and the 62nd East Coast Crips gangs. Seventy two members (72) of the three gangs were targeted by police. This was the first gang injunction to sue a street gang as an unincorporated association. The injunction also named individual gang members as defendants. The injunction only had four restrictions aimed at reducing graffiti, including prohibiting graffiti on private and public property, trespassing on private property with the intent to place graffiti, and an order for the gang to clean up the graffiti that displayed the name of their gangs. The injunction also requested that the 72 named defendants be required to do five hours of community service to clean graffiti. On October 26, 1987, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Los Angeles Police filed an injunction against the Playboy Gangster Crips gang. The injunction was a first of its kind in that it contained a wide array of provisions never attempted before aimed at restricting the ability of the gang to operate and commit gang related crimes. The preliminary injunction named 23 defendants. The injunction was ultimately limited in scope as the judge only allowed restrictions that were listed in the penal code as restrictions and struck down the primary law enforcement goal, the no association provision which the court deemed was not appropriate. The injunction was also the first to name does, or any other members of the gang not yet identified, to be added at a later date if deemed appropriate by the police. On October 7, 1992, the Burbank City Attorney and the Burbank Police Department sought an injunction against the Barrio Elmwood Rifa gang. The target area consisted of an entire city block that the gang called home. The injunction did not name the gang as a defendant, it did however name 34 members of the gang. This was the first injunction to include the “No Association” clause prohibiting gathering, or appearing anywhere in public view, with any other defendant anywhere in the target area. The no association restriction usually contains wording that prohibits the gang members from, “standing, sitting, walking, driving, bicycling, gathering or appearing anywhere in public view with any other defendant herein, or with any other known gang member”. O'Deane (2007) conducted a survey of every prosecutors office in the State of California, including all District Attorney Offices and City Attorney Offices, to gather a complete list of the history of gang injunctions in the state. Full details of each case are highlighted in his publication "Gang Injunctions and Abatement" by CRC Press, here is a numberical listing of the injunctions reported by year, as well as the dates of some of the studies conducted regarding gang injunctions.

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