Norteño safe zone permanent
Under the injunction, accused Norteños cannot gather publicly
It took just about a minute Monday for a Tulare County Superior Court judge to order a permanent gang injunction barring accused Norteño gang members from gathering publicly or engaging in other activities in part of north Visalia.
As many as 500 people could be affected, police say.
Judge Lloyd Hicks last week ordered a similar injunction against the South Side Kings street gang in Ivanhoe. It was the first permanent gang injunction ever issued in Tulare County.
Monday’s injunction affects accused members of four gangs: North Side Visalia, Mexican Gangster Boys, Encina Street Riders and North Side Birdland. None showed up to challenge the injunction, said Don Gallian, assistant district attorney for Tulare County.
The injunction creates a “safe zone” in the neighborhoods between Houston Avenue and Ferguson Street and by Dinuba Boulevard and Burke Street. Identified gang members are prohibited from:
# Congregating, which includes riding in cars, walking down streets or sitting in parks or yards together.
# Intimidating witnesses.
# Possessing illegal weapons or drugs.
# Possessing open containers of alcohol in public.
# Spreading graffiti or possessing graffiti tools.
# Acting as lookout for gang activities.
# Trespassing on private property.
In addition, the injunction establishes a daily 10 p.m.-to-5:30-a.m. curfew in the safe zone.
Dozens of cities and counties across the country, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have used gang injunctions to curb gang activity for about 20 years.
The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office filed civil actions for the injunctions in February, claiming that intimidation, drive-by shootings, murders and other activities by three gangs constitute public nuisances.
Violation of the injunctions are misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail.
Violations can be bumped to felonies if committed to further gang activities, District Attorney Phil Cline said.
Next Monday, another hearing will be held to determine whether a preliminary injunction against the Oriental Troop street gang should be made permanent. It would cover the same north Visalia safe zone targeted by the Norteños’ injunction.