Gang Injunction: 300 black men targeted
Friday Oct 20th, 2006 2:26 AM
Damone Hale on City Attorney Herrera’s “civil gang injunction” program targeting the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.
On Sept. 29, Herrera quietly announced that his first target for the injunction program would be alleged members of the “Oakdale Mob.” As many as 300 young Black men could be impacted by this injunction. The area covered by the proposed civil gang injunction is bounded by Navy Road to the north, Palou to the south, Griffith to the east and Ingalls to the west.
Recently, in Yolo County, southwest of Sacramento, the court issued an injunction without notice to the people affected, except one member who lived out of the county. The injunction targeted members of a Hispanic gang called the “Broderick Boys.” The injunction prohibits the named members within a three-mile “safety zone” from hanging out together, wearing certain colors and clothing, being outside after 10 p.m. – a lifetime curfew – and other activities.
Yolo County residents say their community has been torn apart by the injunction. “Friends and family members can no longer go to family barbecues or attend each other’s children’s birthday parties,” said community activist Martha Garcia. “They can’t go to the movies together. They can’t attend night school because classes get out after the curfew. This injunction harms the quality of life of our community.”
Last Dec. 5, City Attorney Herrera announced the City’s intention to seek a civil gang injunction. One of the criticisms in other counties – which Herrera presumably has consulted – is the lack of community involvement in the development of the injunction. In nearly 11 months, Dennis Herrera, who received significant political support from the impacted community, intentionally chose not to include that community in the development of the injunction.
This is particularly troubling because so many of our respected residents, community leaders, organizations and the faith community have been waging a war on the causes of crime and violence and the barriers to reducing it.
“Enough is enough,” Mr. Herrera. We demand to be at the table when the decisions are made. If our community decides to support such a program, then we demand to be at the table to decide the policy and procedures for such a program.
There is absolutely no justification for excluding the community. Deep distrust of San Francisco police officers and the department is widespread. We have experienced brutality by officers firsthand too many times. We have been victims of their lies and deception to incriminate us too many times.
We have been promised police department reform and have been let down too many times. Dennis Herrera, the discretion you want to empower these officers will be abused too many times. Enough is enough.
Civil gang injunctions may give communities “short-term relief,” but the costs of such a program are potentially astronomical – assuming the City is serious about its implementation. In the first study of the impact of civil gang injunctions, researchers at UC Irvine and the University of Southern California reported that injunctions provide short-term benefits, such as reducing residents’ fear of run-ins with gang members.
However, the study recognized that “more significant changes in the community take root slowly over time, and that additional efforts by officials and community members in the wake of an injunction could significantly increase the positive effects.”
Another researcher, Jeffrey Grogger, a professor in UCLA’s Department of Policy Studies, published the country’s best-known and oft-quoted study on the effectiveness of gang injunctions. Grogger’s study, which looked at 14 gang injunctions implemented in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach between 1993 and 1998, determined that injunctions reduced violent crime by an average of 5-10 percent in the year after they were implemented.
A southern California newspaper reported that its review of the impact of a local gang injunction showed that nearly 80 percent of the gang members named in that injunction had been convicted of at least one crime since the injunctions were imposed. More than half of those convicted committed crimes in the injunctions’ target neighborhoods, indicating that gang members neither ended their criminal acts nor moved away after being served with court orders to do so.
What is the estimated cost to taxpayers for such a program? Not just the cost for enforcement but the cost for career planning, childcare, record expungements, employment and job training, mental health and substance abuse services, housing etc. No cost-benefit analysis has been conducted by the City Controller’s office.
This injunction program should be vetted by our entire City deliberative process. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell has been holding meeting for months on the topic of gang and gun violence. Such a potentially widespread City policy should be reviewed and endorsed at the very least by the affected communities, police commission members, mayor and Board of Supervisors.
Instead of an inclusive process, Herrera relied on the SFPD and other law enforcement agencies that have no credibility with our community. Herrera chose to pursue a City policy that confers “second class” status on hundreds of Black men without involving the community in the development of the gang injunction. Enough is enough.
Stop the injunction process now. Engage the impacted community. Mr. Herrera, you owe us better than this “quick-fix” police harassment tool. If you just have to enjoin someone or something, try this on for size:
* Prohibit the San Francisco School Board members and top leadership from leaving their offices or boardroom until our kids have quality schools and teachers and staff are paid “decent” salaries;
* Prohibit the Recreation Commission members and top leadership from leaving their meeting room and offices until all of our recreation centers are fully operational, staffed and have sufficient resources and equipment;
* Prohibit everyone connected with economic development from leaving their well-paying jobs until the unemployment rate for any particular ethnic group reflects their proportion in the general population;
* Prohibit the mayor from being a candidate for re-election because his failed criminal justice policy has resulted in kids dying and in our City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera trying this desperate last ditch experiment.
Enough is enough.
Contact City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera at City Hall Room 234, San Francisco CA 94102, (415) 554-4700, fax (415) 554-4745, cityattorney [at] sfgov.org,
Damone Hale, Esq., is a community attorney who served nearly 15 years with the Community Defenders Office in Bayview Hunters Point representing residents in criminal, dependency and school hearings. Born and raised in Compton, he moved up north to attend college. While he has served for over 10 years on the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Commission, his greatest honor has been working with community members to provide activities for hundreds of our youth. He boasts of many hours working with parents and community members to plan for cheer, basketball, bowling and flag football competitions, taking kids on trips to Hawaii, Texas, Massachusetts, New York and Nevada and providing them with active and positive adult role models. He holds three degrees and is determined to throw his weight around for his People and his Community. He can be reached by email at Dhale2323 [at] yahoo.com.