Attorney Dismisses Injunctions Against Two Oakland Gangs

OAKLAND– Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker today dismissed injunctions
against two gangs that restricted the movements of 55 reputed members, saying
that Police Chief Sean Whent isn’t interested in continuing them.
Parker said in a statement that Whent says gangs remain a priority
for the Oakland Police Department but the department is focusing on other
gang intervention strategies, such as the Operation Ceasefire program, and
therefore is not in favor of continuing the injunctions.
She said she dismissed the injunctions “given Chief Whent’s
priorities for the Police Department, limited resources in the City
Attorney’s Office and the fact that the injunctions were intended to be
temporary measures.”
In June 2010, at the request of former Oakland City Attorney John
Russo, who had filed suit, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert
Freedman issued a preliminary injunction against 15 reputed members of the
North Side Oakland gang which barred them from associating with other known
gang members within a 100-block “safety zone” in an area in North Oakland
that stretches to the city’s borders with Berkeley and Emeryville.
The injunction also barred the alleged members from intimidating
witnesses, possessing firearms, possessing or selling drugs and creating
In February 2012, Judge Freedman issued a second preliminary
injunction against 40 members of the Nortenos gang who allegedly were
operating in Oakland’s Fruitvale district.
Parker said the injunctions were intended to be temporary measures
to disrupt criminal behavior of specific members of gangs within specific
neighborhoods and weren’t intended to last for the lifetime of the
Parker said only eight of the 40 defendants named in the Nortenos
injunction have been arrested for crimes including robbery, burglary,
illegally carrying a firearm, attempted murder and driving under the
She also noted that one reputed gang member who was named in the
injunction was the victim of a homicide in the injunction zone in March 2013.
Parker said the fact that 80 percent of the defendants in Norteno
case weren’t arrested again in the injunction zone “is a positive result” but
she acknowledged that factors other than the injunction may have contributed
to that outcome.
She said 16 of the 40 defendants have been arrested for crimes
including robbery, grand theft and domestic violence in other parts of
Oakland outside of the injunction zone or in other cities.
Attorneys for the reputed gang members challenged the
constitutionality of the injunctions but Parker said the California State
Court of Appeal upheld both injunction cases and the state Supreme Court
denied review of both cases.
She said attorneys for one reputed North Side Oakland gang member
case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but after the city filed a brief the
high court declined to hear the case.
Community groups and attorneys who opposed the gang injunctions
welcomed Parker’s decision to dismiss them.
Aurora Lopez, a lead organizer with Stop the Injunctions
Coalitions, said in a statement, “This is a huge victory for Oakland
residents that have been demanding an end to police occupation in our
neighborhoods. We know that Oakland can’t police its way out of the issues we
Jeff Wozniak, one of the attorneys for the reputed Norteno gang
members, said, “After over $3 million that could’ve went to education or
community programs in Oakland was wasted in this lawsuit, the City Attorney
dismissed John Russo’s terrible gang injunctions that have never been proven
to be effective or beneficial in any way.”
Wozniak said, “These injunctions targeted many men of color who
were just living their lives. These men can now go on with their lives
without fear of being targeted by this oppressive practice.”

Copyright © 2015 by Bay City News, Inc.

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