Residents ask city to review cost, effectiveness of gang injunctions
on January 12, 2011
As activists and residents lined up to make dozens of complaints Tuesday, city leaders promised to schedule a review of Oakland’s gang injunctions.
About 60 of people showed up at the city’s public safety committee meeting, many with signs that read “Stop the injunctions now” in English and Spanish. “We are here to ask Oakland to re-prioritize its efforts,” said Aurra Lopez, who called the gang injunctions “ineffective and actually counter-productive.”
This was the second time in less than a month that people came to a public safety committee meeting to ask for a review of the anti-gang measures. A similar protest was held at a meeting in December.
Oakland’s first gang injunction took effect last June in North Oakland. Created by the City Attorney’s Office, the court order limits the activities of 15 alleged gang members within a 100-block “safety zone” in the Golden Gate neighborhood. The injunction imposes a curfew on the individuals, and restricts other gang-related activities. In October, the City Attorney’s Office filed a motion for a second gang injunction on 40 alleged Nortenos in a 400-block area of the Fruitvale neighborhood, but it is not yet in effect. A court hearing regarding that injunction is scheduled for February 16.
Proponents say that injunctions give law enforcement important tools to address the city’s gang problem, but opponents have said the measures infringe on civil liberties.
On Tuesday at the public safety committee meeting, about 40 people signed up to express their dissatisfaction with the measures and ask the city find out if the injunctions have reduced gang activity and calculate how much enforcing them has cost the city.
After listening to an initial round of comments, Public Safety Committee Chair Patricia Kernighan told the group that she will ask the Oakland Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office to make a report detailing the cost of the gang injunction in North Oakland and any changes in the crime rates there.
City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan also requested that the report include information on how the people named on the gang injunction list could be removed from it.
Brunner said the report can be expected in about a month’s time.
Later in the meeting, there was a second round of public comments about the gang injunction. Juana Gonzales, who spoke to the council through interpreter Esmerelda Quintero, said that her son is on a gang injunction list. Quintero said Gonzales’ son had been previously arrested and deported, but police officers had continued to come to the family’s home to look for him.
Quintero said the police visits were “effecting [Gonzales’] health, and also embarrassing” her in front of her neighbors. She said the family has filed complaints about the matter, but the OPD’s internal affairs unit had not found any problem with the incidents.
OPD spokesperson Holly Joshi said she didn’t have any information available about Gonzales’ comments. “We take the internal affairs process very seriously,” said Joshi. “In order to have community policing work, we have to have public trust.”
Joshi suggested that Gonzales could also take her complaint to the Citizen’s Police Review Board—a public forum on police accountability.
Kernighan told the group that people with complaints could submit them to the committee via email. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: This story originally misidentified City Councilmember Patricia Kernighan as Jane Brunner. Oakland North regrets the error.
Image: Stephanie Olage, 17, holds up a sign to “stop the injunctions” at the Oakland public safety committee meeting Tuesday.
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