Evidence opened yesterday in the City of Oakland’s gang injunction lawsuit. In that lawsuit, City Attorney John A. Russo seeks to restrict the activities of 40 alleged gang members within a 450-square-block area, mostly in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. If successful, the gang injunction won’t just bar criminal conduct. Within the 450-block area designated as a safety zone, it would impose a curfew and restrict the associational rights of the persons named in the injunction.
I am sympathetic to the frustration that Oakland residents feel, but I have several questions.
– Will the Norteño gang relocate to another neighborhood?
– How much does policing the gang injunction rules cost? Would that money be better spent on recalling laid off Oakland police officers, youth programs, and education?
– Will publicly branding people as “gang” members drive them further into gang life?
– What about people who aren’t gang members? Sure, those who are not gang members or no longer gang members can always file papers in court contesting their gang status. But that would require a lawyer, something that someone trying to make good working a minimum wage job at Costco can hardly afford. Repudiating a gang to get off of the “gang list” could also incur retaliation.