Injunction dysfunction - Page 2

City attorney uses controversial tool against gang violence, a move critics and gang members say may do more harm than good
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Rev. Reynaldo Woods and Michael Green of Up from Darkness
Photo by Nathan Weyland

His biggest issue, though, is the fact that the alleged members don't have the necessary resources to contest the label.

Herrera derided the racial implications levied by Adachi, and in an e-mail to us, press secretary Matt Dorsey wrote, "The fact is, the debate over these proposed injunctions — most especially the one in the Mission — has been characterized by increasingly dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric. This isn't just someone's innocent misunderstanding, either: 'the criminalization of people of color' is wildly misrepresentative, and it's deliberate."

Herrera acknowledges people's concerns, but he stands by his decision.

"I really wish it wasn't necessary that it has come to this point where I say, 'Hey, this is a tool we have to pursue,'" Herrera told us. "But the facts are the facts. We have a gang problem in San Francisco. I think I'd be neglecting my responsibility if I didn't bring another tool to the table to help address the issue."

Woods doesn't raise the same racial concerns that Adachi does, and he isn't too animated about the civil liberties issues. To him, the injunctions are just too broad and counterproductive to the community-based approaches that have the best chance of addressing the problem. He thinks the gang members themselves must help solve the problems they've created.

"It's us getting together every day and doing something positive," said Steve Johnson, a 27-year-old targeted member of Eddy Rock, which claims the Plaza East housing complex as its turf. "It has nothing to do with the injunction. We're trying to get all the different complexes in the Western Addition together."

Paris Moffet, the alleged leader of Eddy Rock, added, "We're the only ones stopping the violence. We needed to. We are going to stop this."

It may come as a surprise that reputed gang members might be helping to stop the violence that was once a part of their daily lives, and several members of Eddy Rock acknowledged they have a long way to go in reshaping their images.

But, they say, they are committed to reforming themselves, and they recently held a barbecue at the complex parking lot to display some of their positive work. In the small community center at Plaza East — locally known as the OC, for "Outta Control" — Eddy Rock, with the help of Woods and others, has created Open Arms, a nonprofit geared toward educating the younger kids in the complex about staying in school and computer literacy.

Asked about the sudden turnabout by Eddy Rock, Marquez Shaw, a 26-year-old alleged member of the gang, explained that the level of violence at Plaza East had taken its toll on everyone, not just uninvolved residents. "[The violence] affected me, very much so," he said. "There's been more bloodshed here than anywhere else in the community. We're the only ones man enough to do something."

But Herrera said the recent relative quiet in the area doesn't make up for more than five years of chaos. "Has there been a lull? Yeah," he said. "But earlier in the summer there were some brazen shootings. June isn't that long ago."

Woods acknowledged that the members shouldn't be given a free pass, considering their troubled past. "They're not angels," he said. "But let's try to help them before they go to prison. That way you might save the old lady's life. You might save a youngster's life. If they had something to do, they wouldn't do the shootings."

At the Aug. 14 Eddy Rock barbecue, about 50 or so people from the Plaza East complex snacked on ribs, chicken, hot links, and spaghetti.

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