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Mission District
granted City's second gang injunction

By Ari Burack

October 16, 2007

A San Francisco Superior Court judge has granted the city's second civil injunction against criminal street gangs, this time against 30 alleged Norteno gang members in the Mission District.

Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney on Friday granted City Attorney Dennis Herrera a preliminary injunction covering an area north of Cesar Chavez Street, between Valencia Street and Potrero Avenue, up to parts of 21st and 23rd streets, "one of San Francisco's most violence-prone neighborhoods," according to the City Attorney's office.

The 60-block "safety zone," known to be Norteno turf area, prohibits the 30 alleged gang members named in the injunction from gang-related activities such as possessing weapons or drugs, graffiti vandalism, trespassing, gang recruitment, associating with other gang members and loitering between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Violation of the injunction could result in monetary penalties or up to five days in jail for each violation under civil prosecution, or up to six months in jail under criminal prosecution, the City Attorney's office reported.

Enforcement of the injunction "will address the serious problems these individuals have caused to the neighborhood and its residents, while safeguarding civil liberties," Herrera said in a written statement yesterday.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced that his client, 23-year-old Antonio Buitrago, one of the alleged gang members included the City Attorney's original request, was ordered excluded by Mahoney from the injunction.

According to Adachi, Buitrago's interactions with alleged gang members were non-criminal. He had been seen with a gang member at a funeral, recorded a rap song referencing gang culture, and had once been shot, but was never convicted or arrested for a crime, Adachi said.

"Today's decision proves that non-gang members are still at risk of being permanently branded as criminals," Adachi said in a written statement.

"I am deeply concerned that there are others who couldn't afford an attorney to fight this injunction, and will now be permanently restricted from conducting legal, innocent behavior in their own neighborhood," Adachi added.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for Herrera, contended that the evidence against Buitrago was strong and based on testimony from a police department expert on the Norteno gang "who personally knows Mr. Buitrago," he said.

According to Dorsey, Buitrago rapped about guns and selling drugs, "pretty much glorifying gang culture."

Nevertheless, according to Dorsey, the City Attorney was satisfied that the majority of those named - "a small number of adult Norteno gang members whose conduct has clearly demonstrated a public nuisance," Herrera said S- were included in the injunction.

"Gang injunctions are not a panacea for solving all violent crime, but they're an important and effective tool that can be part of the solution," Dorsey said.

Preliminary data from San Francisco police spanning nearly a year after an injunction granted last September against members of the Oakdale Mob in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood shows decreases in gang-related homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies, drug offenses and other street crimes, the City Attorney's office reported.

The City Attorney's office is currently seeking further injunctions against the Knock Out Posse, Chopper City and Eddy Rock gangs in San Francisco's Western Addition district.


Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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