Judge to rule on injunction within weeks
Attorneys argue over making anti-gang measure permanent
By Marjorie Hernandez, mhernandez@VenturaCountyStar.com
March 26, 2005
In her closing comments, county prosecutor Karen Wold said members of the Colonia Chiques gang are “public nuisances” who have been responsible for 40 homicides in Oxnard since 1992 and 147 assaults from 2000 to 2004.
“There is no evidence to the contrary,” Wold said. “The activities of the gang fall under the definition of public nuisance.”
Wold said since the temporary injunction was implemented, police officers and detectives have testified that residents are feeling safer and gang members are less visible in the streets.
She said even some members of the Colonia Chiques acknowledged the effectiveness of the injunction, which covers a 6.6-square-mile known as the “safety zone.”
Wold showed photographs of a letter alleged gang member Jose Navarro, who authorities say also is known as “Horse,” wrote to another.
“I guess that gang injunction is working,” Navarro wrote.
Turning slightly to the audience in the packed courtroom, Wold said, “That’s straight from the Horse’s mouth.”
Neil Quinn, a chief public defender for the county, said the prosecution painted a inaccurate picture of the safety zone, saying hundreds of people, including residents, have signed declarations stating they feel safe in the community.
“Residents in Oxnard became offended when people suggested that Oxnard is an unsafe place to go,” Quinn said. “This is unfair.”
Opponents of the injunction also have expressed concern about its impact on the civil liberties of people living in La Colonia.
Quinn said the injunction has “lumped” all members of the community — even those who have never been or no longer are involved in gang activity.
Quinn said the reduction in crime that officers and detectives testified about only served to re-enforce the idea that criminal activity was only caused by a few individuals, not a “large, ill-defined group” that prosecutors described.
A better enforcement plan to curb crime in the city should include input from the community, Quinn said, and a simpler and more limited order that would allow individuals to “opt out” of the injunction by joining a program should also be considered, Quinn said.
Gang members served with the injunction cannot associate with other members, wear Dallas Cowboys attire, stay out past 10 p.m. or engage in any gang-related activities within the safety zone. Those arrested for violating the injunction face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.