Civil gang injunctions, used in Los Angeles County for more than 30 years as a tool to fight crime, are coming under fresh fire as a grass-roots effort to challenge them gains momentum.
The Daily Breeze reports that the Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), a social justice group that works toward gender, race, and class equality for California juveniles, is seeing greater community support than ever before in their decade-long battle against gang injunctions—which the group says violates the basic civil liberties of underprivileged youth.
Gang injunctions are behavior restrictions placed on gang members. Enforceable by police, they include things like imposing curfews, preventing cell phone ownership, and prohibiting members from associating with each other. They're meant as a way to reduce gang-related violence and drug crimes among the 95,000 gang members making up more than 1,000 street gangs throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties.
However, the Youth Justice Coalition says, not all the youth targeted by gang injunctions are actually gang members.
Officers are given what opponents view as too much latitude in enforcing these injunctions. Young people who live in certain neighborhoods are frequently stopped, harassed, frisked, or wrongly labeled as gang members by law enforcement officials bent on waging war against gangs, reports the Daily Breeze.
Kruti Parehk, an organizer for the YJC, said in a statement, “This is the criminalization of young people,” and refers to police actions as “the terrorism brought by injunctions.”
The YJC is currently challenging the city of Inglewood's established gang injunction, as well as recent efforts to create a new injunction for areas in Echo Park and Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Support for the activist group is growing, with more than 150 people opposed to gang injunctions gathering at a late August demonstration at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown L.A.
Hearings for both cases are scheduled for late October.
Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Vitaly Sigal represents individuals who are accused of various crimes, including gang-related crime. If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, Mr. Sigal will provide experienced and aggressive representation. To speak with Mr. Sigal regarding your criminal case, contact our law office today.