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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Editorial: Gang Injunction

    The community of West Sacramento is protesting against the need of another gang injunction. Imposing a gang injunction on the area to capture gang members does not get to the crux of the issue — it is a defensive approach lacking long-term effectiveness.
    The district attorney’s office asserts that there is a gang problem in West Sacramento, which calls for a second injunction granted by the State Supreme Court. Past cases, such as an injunction to eliminate the Broderick Boys gang in 2005, have been overturned. The new injunction is based on community members voicing how “safe” they feel in their neighborhoods, which is relative to where a person lives and visibility issues. If there is a problem, it is not being addressed using the right means.
    A gang injunction involves sending law enforcement into the community to patrol for suspicious persons that fall under specific criteria of a gang member. Only two of the 11 criteria must be observed before placing the individual under injunction and restricting various civil liberties, such as forbidding interaction between the accused and supposed gang members and instilling a 10 p.m. to sunrise curfew. Given the broad spectrum of possibilities of individuals meeting these criteria, which includes only one crime-related criteria, there is great potential for inaccuracy and ambiguous claims.
    In the case that false positives are made, the alleged gang member has very little ability to contest the claim. Gang injunctions do not formally place individuals under arrest because they are not being charged with a crime. Rather, there is the potential for someone to be judged guilty by association.
    An underlying issue with a gang injunction is its social implications; racial profiling and labeling that lead to further hostility within the community. By mistaking a person as a gang member due to their race or ethnicity or that of one’s close acquaintances, many social justices are at stake. Instead of pointing fingers, the community should start at square one and promote neighborhood unity.
    Outreach is an important tactic in combating crime rates and the presence of gangs within a community.  This can take on forms such as community centers with work training and youth programs. In order to reduce the problems in West Sacramento, the causes of crime and gang living must be analyzed and addressed. The susceptibility of an area to crime and gangs is directly related to issues such as the income, quality of education and extracurricular programs in the area as well as highway access or vacant buildings.
    It is important to remember that a gang is built on solidarity among its members. Applying force to the situation and infringing on civil rights will instill a defensive atmosphere within the community causing people to feel paranoid or wary of being falsely accused.


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