Both Sides Score Points in Gang Injunction Trial

Nick Welsh (Santa Barbara Independent) | May 29, 2014

Over the past three weeks, attorneys on both sides of the proposed gang injunction have been landing solid points during the trial. Closing arguments are scheduled to take place in Judge Colleen Sterne’s courtroom later this week.

On Tuesday, Santa Barbara Police Detective Gary Siegel acknowledged that between November 2010 and August 2013, there was no evidence that Francisco Anaya had been involved in any criminal or gang-related activity. Anaya’s defense attorney William Makler noted that his client, an alleged Eastside gang member and one of the 11 defendants specifically named by City Hall in its injunction lawsuit, has been employed for the past seven years at Westmont College. He’s argued that his client is no longer active in the gang life and that he certainly doesn’t qualify as one of “the worst of the worst,” the phrase used by Police Chief Cam Sanchez to describe those named in the injunction when it was first proposed three-and-a-half years ago. During that time, Anaya, who still has gang tattoos, had only one minor citation when he refused a police order to stop while walking past a fight that occurred near his home. Anaya denied being involved in the fight, and the police have no evidence to contradict him.

When the injunction was first proposed, 30 individuals were named, but two weeks before the trial began, only 11 names remained. The missing 19 people are now either serving lengthy sentences in state or federal prisons or have dropped out of gang life. Makler expressed surprise that his client was not among those removed from the list and is hoping his client’s clean record will persuade the judge to do so.

Likewise, defense attorney Michael Hanley, with the Public Defender’s office, who represents Christian “Tweety” Botello, questioned the accuracy of police maps purporting to show the extent of gang activity within city limits between 2010 and 2013. While cross-examining Det. Siegel, the department’s foremost gang expert, Hanley established that the dramatic splatter of dots on a map denoting gang incidents failed to distinguish between gang-involved acts (those done specifically to further a street gang) and those that were committed by gang members but not necessarily part of gang activity. This would include, he argued, parole and curfew violations. By lumping such minor “gang involved” incidents with “gang related,” Hanley suggested, the Police Department created a gang-incident map that visually exaggerated the true extent of the gang problem. Defense attorneys readily concede that Santa Barbara criminal street gangs exist in Santa Barbara, but they contend the injunction is not necessary, because gang crime rates have been dropping. They believe this proves that traditional methods of law enforcement are handling the problem and that the gang injunction is an unnecessary and extraordinary method.

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