SJ city leader wants to expand gang injunctions

February 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Depending who you ask, it is either a powerful tool to combat gang violence, or a violation of civil rights. San Jose was one of the first cities to use gang injunctions and now some city leaders want to see them expanded.

At one apartment complex a 15-year-boy was stabbed to death earlier this month. It happened in known gang territory.

San Jose Councilwoman Nora Campos wants the violence to stop. Her spokesman says on Friday, she will ask the mayor's gang prevention task force to back her push for more gang injunctions.

"I think it's a valuable tool to be able to target the neighborhood where these gangs continue to operate and I think given our limited resources, under our current budget, we need to focus our resources," says Campos' Chief Of Staff Ryan Ford.

San Jose was one of the first California cities to create a gang injunction, which bans known gang members from gathering in certain parts of the city. The injunction is still in effect in one West San Jose neighborhood where Surenos were known to hang out.

Luz Hernandez from San Jose says the police are always around and the gangs have left and in Oakland, a similar gang injunction effort is under way.

Councilmember Campos wants to expand the gang injunction into hot spots for gang activity throughout the city, including the Kolmer Apartments in East San Jose.

"That would make me feel better because I'm just worried about my kids," says Nancy Palomino from East San Jose.

But the ACLU criticizes the injunction, saying it violates civil rights and could lead to racial profiling.

"I don't think gang injunctions are effective," says Robert Rios.

Rios is a former gang member and also part of the mayor's gang task force, Cease Fire. He thinks too many young people will be stopped by police simply because of how they are dressed.

"The money spent and the man power spent and stuff, I think it'd be more effective if it were put toward outreach programs," says Rios.

Outreach and prevention are also part of Campos's proposal. If the task force supports the expanded injunction idea, it will go before the city council for a vote.