San Francisco City Attorney to argue for Oakdale
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Three weeks after a San Francisco
deputy city attorney successfully obtained the city's first temporary
restraining order against a criminal street gang, the controversial
case is set to go back to court.
On Wednesday morning, private attorney Damone Hale is expected
to argue that the Oakdale Mob is not the group of criminals it's
made out to be and in fact doesn't even exist and that the city's
tactics are unfair toward his client, Shanteak Harris.
Deputy City Attorney Machaela Hoctor, however, hopes to turn
the restraining order into a long-term preliminary injunction.
She said that in the last three weeks the small "safety zone"
in the Bayview-Hunters Point area has turned into a safer place
thanks to the restraining order.
"There has been a dramatic decrease of reports of crime
in the safety zone and there has been a dramatic increase in children
playing outside," Hoctor said. "They're playing football
in the streets, which officers hadn't seen in six years."
Officer Len Broberg, the gang task force member who has provided
much of the case's evidence, said police haven't made any arrests
since the temporary restraining order went into effect.
"We've had problems locating some of the individuals. They've
gone into hiding," Broberg said of the 22 individuals named
in the temporary restraining order. "One woman told me she
hasn't heard gunshots in a couple weeks. Kids are actually playing
But Mesha Monge-Irizarry, a Bayview District activist who has
been a vocal opponent of the gang injunction, said spending the
effort and money on an injunction is a waste.
"It's a disaster because a lot of kids have been targeted
by that injunction even though they're not involved in gangs,"
she said. "We don't condone gang activity and we don't deny
that gangs are involved in crime, but this injunction targets
young black men."
Hale agrees and called the injunction just the beginning of "the
depopulation of African Americans."
If Superior Court Judge Peter Busch grants the injunction at
Wednesday's hearing, he would essentially be saying he feels the
city attorney's case has enough merit to win at trial.
"There's no bigger restriction this court will ever make
in its judicial life," Hale said of Wednesday's hearing.
"Nothing Judge Busch ever ruled on will impact the city more
than this decision."
Hoctor said she is confident the injunction will be granted Wednesday
and that the case against the Oakdale Mob will go on to be successful.
She added that she will push for a 10 p.m. curfew to go on top
of loitering, weapon and trespassing conditions.
She also said that because she is serving the Oakdale Mob as
an entity, more than just the 22 people named in the complaint
would be subject to the injunction -- though they would have to
be served with a chance to deny gang involvement before an arrest
would take place.
"There is overwhelming evidence that they are a criminal
street gang inhabiting a four block area around public housing,"
Hoctor said of Oakdale Mob and added that Shanteak Harris is one
of the gang's known leaders.
But Hale denies the charges and said that the injunction would
tear apart the community.
"Its not that we don't have problems, but this injunction
could break up families, blood brothers," Hale said. "These
folks won't be able to have Thanksgiving together on Thursday."
"Good kids are unable to hang out together," said Monge-Irizarry,
who added that across the country, communities that have been
the target of similar injunctions are usually the next in line
"Poor people of color are being pushed out," she said.
Hoctor, however, said that the injunctions have a long-established
precedent in law, and in the case of the Oakdale community, there
is no greater priority than stopping crime.
"An elderly, disabled man came up to me and thanked me,"
Hoctor said. "He told me this is the first time that he could
remember that he hasn't had to sleep on the floor ... because
of the fear of bullets entering his home. That makes this all
The hearing is set to take place at 9:30 a.m. in Room 301 of
the Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco.
Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.