Court upholds right to restrict gang activity
February 1, 1997
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – San Jose has won the right to ban suspected gang members from annoying, intimidating or harassing residents of a neighborhood called an “urban war zone.”The California Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholds a 1993 ban in a four-square-block Rocksprings area that residents described as riddled with drug dealing, shootings and other crimes.
Crime fell by more than two-thirds since the court injunction against 38 people identified by police as gang members who lived outside the area, said Kevin Pursglove, spokesman for Mayor Susan Hammer.
“This reaffirms the city’s initial contention that this is a viable tool to protect innocent people who want to be safe in their homes,” Pursglove said.
Other California cities were expected to pass similar laws in light of the high court decision, which said, “liberty unrestrained is an invitation to anarchy.”
Justices rejected arguments that gang members have the right to meet anywhere if they violate no laws. Gang members apparently had “no constitutionally protected or even lawful goals” in Rocksprings, said Justice Janice Rogers Brown.
Justice Stanley Mosk dissented, saying the ban was too vague.
Brown responded that similar restrictions have been upheld against abortion rights protesters.