Judge intends to issue gang injunction for Oakland

May 27, 2010 7:26:50 PM PDT
Oakland will soon join the list of cities with a gang injunction. That means areas of the city will be off limits to known gang members. It can best be described as a 100 block area of North Oakland, where the city hopes to establish a "safety zone." However, many are concerned that could lead to legalized racial profiling.

These protesters say any gang injunction in Oakland would give authorities a free pass to terrorize young men of color, but authorities say the North Side Oakland gang has terrorized the city through drug dealing, intimidation, and even murder.

"This Oakland City Council has come against that Arizona law, when we are looking at a very similar police tactic in this injunction," said Alexis Mazon, a protest organizer.

Despite those claims of racial profiling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman told a packed courtroom on Thursday that he intends to issue the injunction the city attorney's office is seeking.

That means the 15 men listed in the injunction -- those authorities say are the most dangerous -- would be banned from gathering in a 100 block stretch of North Oakland.

It also would mean the 15 people on the list would have to abide by a curfew and stay off the streets from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.

"In a city that has the title of being the fifth most dangerous city in the United States, we should be willing to try any innovative approach that will keep young people alive on these streets today," said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

It's a group of 15 now, but the list is expected to grow.

"The city attorney has indicated the intention to bring six to 12 additional gang injunctions throughout Oakland and we are concerned and oppose any additional injunctions in Oakland," said ACLU attorney Diana Tate Vermeire.

Opponents say it is too difficult for those accused gang members to "opt out" of the injunction list.

They would have to prove they have not been a gang member for at least a year and show they have a job (or have looked for a job), are in school, or are involved in the community.

"The injunction is not going to stop violence, just as the War on Drugs did not stop the flow of drugs," said San Leandro resident Margaret White.

White's son was on the list, but no longer is because he is being tried for murder and officials do not want to influence that case. She says despite the tattoos and the troubled past, he was unfairly targeted.


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