Judges mull requests for two gang injunctions
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera held a press conference
today to discuss
two civil injunctions aimed at limiting activities by alleged
By Julia Cheever
September 18, 2007
Two San Francisco Superior Court judges heard arguments today
but delayed ruling on requests by city lawyers for civil injunctions
that would limit activities by alleged gang members in the Mission
and Western Addition districts.
Judges Patrick Mahoney and Peter Busch took the two cases under
submission and have 90 days to issue written decisions.
The injunctions, if granted, would be the second and third obtained
by the city under the state's public nuisance law. The use of
such injunctions against gang members was upheld by the California
Supreme Court in 1997.
Last year, Busch issued an injunction restricting actions of
22 alleged members of the Oakdale Mob in four blocks of the Bayview-Hunters
The new orders sought by City Attorney Dennis Herrera would bar
76 members of four gangs from associating with one another, wearing
gang symbols and engaging in nuisances and crimes in 60 blocks
of the Mission district and 12 blocks of the Western Addition.
Named members of the Norteno gang in the Mission would also face
a nighttime curfew.
Herrera said outside of court, "This is an effort to do
what we can to stem the tide of gang violence.
"We're targeting individuals on whom we have evidence that
they were terrorizing a community," the city attorney said.
Lawsuits filed by city lawyers in June charge the alleged gang
members create a dangerous public nuisance through drug dealing,
shootings, stabbings, robberies, graffiti vandalism, trespassing
The targeted individuals are 32 alleged Norteno gang members
in the Mission and 44 alleged members of the Eddy Rock, Chopper
City and Knockout Posse gangs in the Western Addition.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who opposed the injunction
requests on behalf of two individuals, said he believes gang injunctions
aren't effective and simply move gang activities to other areas.
"These resources are better placed in providing community-based
interventions," Adachi said.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi
Adachi said his clients - Antonio Buitrago, a 22-year-old tow-truck
driver and rap artist and Makia Johnson, 19 - deny that they have
ever been members of the Norteno and Knockout Posse gangs as alleged
in the lawsuits.
The public defender also claims the proposed injunctions would
violate the constitutional right of free association and are too
Adachi said some community groups fear the orders would lead
to racial harassment and profiling. He said he personally believes
"the sweeping police powers that the injunctions make possible
raise the specter and real possibility of racial profiling."
Herrera, who sent Adachi a letter this morning asking him to
repudiate alleged "inflammatory rhetoric" on racial
matters, said this afternoon, "I think that does everybody
a tremendous disservice."
The city attorney said, "We're trying to protect communities
of San Francisco," many of which are made up of minority
The proposed injunctions would bar named gang members from associating
with each other except in school or church and engaging in nuisance
activities such as loitering, trespassing, intimidation, defacing
property with graffiti, gang recruitment, and display of gang
signs or symbols, including the color red in the Norteno area.
Crimes such as possession of drugs, graffiti implements and guns
would also be covered by the injunction.
A curfew for named Norteno gang members would be in effect from
10 p.m. until sunrise, except for travel to work, religious services,
medical appointments or emergencies.
The injunctions could be enforced through either civil contempt
of court, with jail sentences of up to five days, or prosecution
for a criminal misdemeanor, with jail sentences of up to six months.
The injunction granted by Busch last year in the Oakdale case
included a night curfew, but the judge moved the starting time
from the 10 p.m. time requested by Herrera to midnight.
Los Angeles County currently has about 30 gang injunctions in
effect, Hadachi said.
Herrera said he hopes the city will use civil injunctions "minimally,
as exceptions to the rule" in the future, but said, "When
it gets to the point where the community is crying out for a response,
I reserve the right to use it."
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