Anti-gang strategy is called a success
But critics charge racism in West Sacramento’s use of a court injunction.
By Steve Gibson — Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Since authorities obtained a court order targeting a 350-member West Sacramento street gang known as the Broderick Boys, city police have arrested 10 members on a variety of charges and say the crackdown is working.
“She’s a Chicana, Mexican American, Latina, however you want to put it, with no (criminal) record whatsoever, never committed a crime. She is a good girl. But she was (served)… by the police. They based it,” Garcia contended, “on a photograph of her hugging a supposed gang member two years ago when she was 14.”
The court injunction issued Feb. 3 is patterned after others in the state that have survived court challenges. In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a similar injunction in San Jose that banned gang members from publicly gathering in a neighborhood or annoying its residents.
The court order prohibits Broderick Boys members from “standing, sitting, walking, driving, gathering or appearing anywhere in public view or any place accessible to the public.”
Besides banning gang members from gathering, the order imposes a curfew on gang members from 10 p.m. until sunrise. It prohibits them from intimidating witnesses, possessing guns or other weapons, spraying graffiti or owning spray-paint cans, and trespassing. Moreover, it bans them from drinking in public or being around anyone with open containers of alcoholic beverages.
In the latest arrests, one person was stopped in a stolen car after a police chase, one was found with marijuana, one was associating with another gang member and others violated curfew, police said.
Reisig said that when police officers are spotted, the gang members “disperse immediately. No question about it, the word is out. They’re running.”
In addition, West Sacramento police say a half dozen gang members have contacted detectives to inquire about getting out of the organization.
“These are gang members who want to dissociate themselves,” said police Lt. David Farmer. “We’ll give them a chance to get off (the list). If you want to get off, you can.”
Reisig noted that the Broderick Boys members would be prohibited from participating in the rally because City Hall is included in the 3-square-mile section of West Sacramento covered by the court order.
“They would be in violation of the court order if they did,” Reisig said. “They take their chances the police will arrest them.”
Farmer dismissed suggestions that Broderick Boys members are being targeted because of their ethnic background.
“It’s not directed at a specific race,” he said. “It’s directed at a specific criminal element in this community. The makeup of the Broderick Boys is not all Hispanics. There are different racial groups within this organization.”
Farmer said the injunction “is really directed at intervention and prevention. … We won’t tolerate activities that jeopardize public safety.”
So far, Farmer said, about 80 known members have been served with copies of the injunction. He said gang members are not technically in violation until they have knowledge of the injunction and they’ve been served and the city has a proof of service on file.
A subsequent violation could lead to misdemeanor penalties of up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Police began serving the injunctions Feb. 10, the day the crackdown was announced, and Farmer said it will be a gradual process that will take months to complete.
“It’s not as though we’re out beating the streets looking for them,” Farmer said. “But when our officers come across them, they do serve them.”