Injunction dysfunction - Page 3

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

Two beat officers from the Northern Station stood in the distance and oversaw an impromptu football game between juveniles and alleged gang members.

A clipping of a newspaper article hangs on the wall in the community center; it's about how director Spike Lee is urging inner-city youths to make films about their experience growing up with violence and to use the Internet to broadcast them to others.

Given a camera, Shaw has done just that. During a recent visit to Plaza East, he was using iMovie to edit a video that he planned to post on YouTube. On the video, an older black man says, "Now it's time to look at what's going on, not what's happened in the past."

Nas's "I Know I Can" plays on Hannibal Thompson's video as he flatly explains how the area is deprived of proper resources and lacks preventative measures. Thompson, a 20-year-old named in one of the injunctions as a member of Eddy Rock, says six of his friends have been murdered since 2005 — three of them less than a block away, at Eddy and Laguna, where cameras affixed to streetlights are meant to deter criminal activity. He said increased police presence and the work of Woods have led to the decrease in violence, something he embraces.

"The best thing that ever happened to this community was the 24-hour police patrol. That's way better than the injunction," he said. "They should have done that years ago."

Casciato doesn't doubt that Eddy Rock, which has terrorized residents for years, might have turned the corner. But he calls the injunctions one additional tool to fight the long-term battle against gang violence. Casciato said it was too soon to tell how an injunction would affect regular police procedure. Like others in the community, though, he emphasized the effectiveness of outreach work.

"There has been a great collaborative effort on the community's part," Casciato said. On gang members reforming themselves, he said, "I'm sure they did. Success is going to come from within, not from the outside. All our efforts are for naught if there's no buy-in."

Under the current terms of the injunctions, the aforementioned barbecue would be prohibited, since it involved literally the whole gang. The targeted individuals could freely associate with one another inside the community center but would need to go in and out separately, which critics say is not a realistic scenario. If targeted members violate the injunctions, they can be charged with misdemeanors and put in jail for up to five days.

The injunction tactic "undermines antiviolence efforts of community advocates and organizations working in the Western Addition, like Woods, by effectively preventing the individuals most in need of support services from participating in them," Fox-Davis wrote in an e-mail.

Herrera and his deputies submitted more than 4,000 pages of evidence, including expert declarations from the gang task force, which detailed the reign of terror of the three gangs. He said they've been careful to name only shot callers in the injunctions and to carefully detail the case against them.

Fox-Davis and other critics contend the Western Addition injunction is too broad, unlike the first one in Oakdale, which only covered four square blocks. A total of 15 blocks are designated as the "safety zone" in the Western Addition, stretching from Eddy and Gough in the east to Eddy and Webster in the west, bordered by Turk and Ellis to the north and south, for Eddy Rock.

For Chopper City and KOP — which had in the past aligned themselves against Eddy Rock — the safety zone is a six-block area north of Turk to Ellis, between Divisadero and Steiner, which includes the Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King housing complexes.

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