West Sacramento’s ongoing gang injunction battle continued Monday when the Yolo County Superior Court heard final arguments about a temporary injunction on alleged gang members‘ activity.
The city, meanwhile, continues to pursue a permanent injunction against the Broderick Boys gang after it was voided by the Court of Appeals in April 2007.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s office is pursuing the preliminary injunction as a way of temporarily reinstating the injunction regulations until the court issues a final decision in the still-unscheduled trial that would make the regulations permanent.
“It’s like a stopgap measure that the Yolo DA’s office is saying we need this right now before we get to trial because there is a huge problem,” said Josh Kaizuka, an attorney with the Law Office of Mark E. Marin, which is representing opponents of the injunction pro bono.
The city began the injunction process in 2005 when it obtained permission from the court to issue an injunction against gang activity in a 3-square-mile area in the Broderick and Bryte neighborhood. The injunction enacted regulations on individuals alleged to be gang members, prohibiting activities such as fraternizing with each other in public or breaking the 10 p.m. curfew. An infraction of the injunction is considered a misdemeanor crime and carries a penalty of up to six months in jail.
“The injunction was due to the high level of gang activity in West Sacramento for years,” said Jay Linden, deputy district attorney. “The real impetus came out of a brutal stabbing in 2003 in which some residents were simply having a party and were attacked by several gang members who had crashed the party.“
Community members against the original 2005 injunction contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California for help. The ACLU brought the issue to the Court of Appeals which ordered the city to end the injunction in April 2007. The court found that authorities had not done an adequate job of notifying alleged gang members about the new restrictions and voided the injunction.
“While we feel we followed the law, the Court of Appeals felt we needed to serve more than one individual,” Linden said.
Community members opposing the injunction say it’s unnecessary and unfair.
“[The proponents] basically say that [Broderick] is this horrible crime-ridden area where people are afraid to go out of their homes, but that is not what we’re hearing from the people who live there,” Kaizuka said.
The League of United Latin American Citizens has taken an active role in fighting the injunction since its inception. League president Rebecca Sandoval denies the existence of a Broderick Boys gang and sees the injunction as a way to increase police power.
“In any city, there are people who do things wrong and there are laws to address that,” Sandoval said. “They can’t prove that individual infractions were done on behalf of the Broderick Boys gang.“
Cities throughout California, including San Francisco and Ventura, have been experimenting with gang injunctions for a decade. The issue often draws criticism from ethnic and civil rights groups. The ACLU has been involved in numerous lawsuits to fight the injunctions.
“The ACLU has problems with gang injunctions because we feel it is a way for the government to step around protections for individuals in criminal law,” said Alan Schlosser, legal director of ACLU of Northern California. “The way we define gangs – it almost always targets communities of color. It’s almost inherently racial profiling.“
The court is expected to issue a decision about the preliminary injunction before the end of next week.
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX