Court Rejects City Attorney’s bid to Curb Westside gang’s movement’s

November 6, 1987, Friday, Home Edition
SECTION: Metro; Part 2; Page 1; Column 4; Metro Desk

By PAUL FELDMAN, Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Thursday rejected immediate legal steps that would have banned members of a violent Westside street gang from associating with each other and would have required them to stay inside their homes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Terming the city attorney’s request for a temporary restraining order against the Playboy Gangster Crips “too broad to grant,” Judge Warren H. Deering continued City Atty. James K. Hahn’s nuisance abatement lawsuit against the gang to Nov. 18.

On that date, Deering will hold a hearing on Hahn’s request for a preliminary injunction against the 200-plus member gang, which prosecutors say sells rock cocaine on the streets and in houses in a neighborhood bordered by La Cienega and Robertson boulevards, 18th Street and Cadillac Avenue.

None of six alleged gang members whom police personally served with legal notice of Thursday’s hearing showed up in court.

However, Joan Howarth, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, was granted permission to enter the case in opposition to the city attorney’s office.

In court, Howarth termed the proposed restrictions “an attempt to enforce criminal laws without abiding by basic criminal justice protections.”

Later, she told reporters that the ACLU “is completely appalled at violent crime, including violent gang crime,” but that authorities should “step up lawful law enforcement” rather than undertake civil action containing “a laundry list of constitutional problems.”

“This is the first time that I would characterize anything going on in the City of Los Angeles as coming close to a police state,” Howarth added.

Hahn, who at a morning press conference termed the lawsuit “a new chapter in the enforcement effort against gangs,” said he “was not really surprised” by the judge’s ruling.

“I’m trying to put (the gang) on notice,” he explained. “We’re not going to give up. . . . If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.”

At his press conference, Hahn was flanked by three supporters of his lawsuit: Raymond L. Johnson Jr., president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP; City Councilman Nate Holden, and Cmdr. Lorne C. (Larry) Kramer, the Los Angeles Police Department’s top anti-gang officer.

Johnson, saying “we must return the community back to the people,” emphasized that he had received assurances from authorities that only hard-core gang members would be targeted under the lawsuit.

Said Kramer: “We’re not talking about fraternal organizations, we’re talking about criminal cartels.”

Authorities say they have made 517 arrests in the 26-square-block Cadillac-Corning neighborhood so far this year, 323 of them for drug-related offenses. Authorities blame Uzi-toting members of the gang for both the drug trafficking problem and for six killings and a series of 14 disappearances in the past year.

“This is a nice neighborhood, a lot of good people live in this neighborhood,” Hahn said. “Unfortunately, this gang won’t allow people to do that. They have systematically taken over the neighborhood, and they engage in drug sales, shootings, murders and assaults. People are afraid to sleep in bedrooms close to the street.”

The legal action, if ultimately approved, would restrict people proven to be gang members from entering the neighborhood unless they live or work there. Other restrictions would include a ban on remaining on public streets for more than five minutes at any time of day or night.

Penalties for disregarding the restrictions could range from five days to six months in jail, Hahn said.

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