Gang injunction outrages people in Oakland


The ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman, who has been mulling the issue for months, bars the five alleged Norteno members from hanging out with one another, loitering and possessing guns in a 450-block area in the largely Hispanic Fruitvale district.

The ruling, which is the first phase in what is expected to be a multi-phase process, also imposes a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., among other restrictions.

The ruling applies to two reputed gang members who testified and presented evidence at a series of hearings in the initial phase of the litigation.

It also applies to three other alleged members who don't have lawyers and didn't present any evidence.

Freedman is reserving judgment on 35 other reputed gang members until later so they all have a chance to testify if they choose to do so. The proposed gang injunction is the second that has been sought by the city. Last June, Freedman issued an injunction against 15 members of the North Side Oakland gang.

Opponents of the injunction claim it is overly broad and will result in racial profiling of young Latino men.

But former Oakland City Attorney John Russo, who filed the suit last October but recently left that position to become the city manager in Alameda, said the suit has nothing to do with racial profiling and instead focuses on cracking down on gang members whom he said have been committing crimes in the Fruitvale area.

Freedman said on May 6, which was the last hearing on the matter, that he would rule "well before" a hearing that was scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

But he didn't issue it until shortly before today's hearing and it still isn't available on his website.

In his brief ruling, Freedman said the city of Oakland met "the requisite burden of proof" to get a preliminary injunction but didn't elaborate.

Yolanda Huang, an attorney for some of the alleged gang members, said she was "disappointed" that Freeman didn't specify his reasons for granting the injunction and "was not more scholarly."

Huang said, "We definitely will appeal the ruling," saying she thinks Freeman's order "lacks specificity and there was not enough admissible evidence for the holding."

Dennis Cunningham, another attorney for some alleged gang members, said defense lawyers want to have hearings for the remaining defendants in the case but he thinks they may be "futile" and a waste of time because he thinks Freedman "doesn't recognize issues for the defense."

Alex Katz, the spokesman for the city attorney's office, said he did not have any comment on the ruling this afternoon but might issue a statement later today.

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