Call Now to stop the Gang Injunction
Even with a $58 million deficit, Oakland plans to spend $1.7 million on an ineffective and counterproductive "Gang Injunction" policy. Gang injunctions are civil lawsuits against lists of young people suspected of being involved in gangs and living in certain areas. Currently, the targeted areas are North Oakland and Fruitvale but could soon include East Oakland and other neighborhoods. It criminalizes normal behavior, such as being outside past an arbitrary time or associating with others on the list. In others words, if you are coming home late from work or attend a cultural event where someone else on the list shows up, you can be put in jail and face a thousand dollar fine.
Organizing with Books Not Bars families, I’ve lost count of the number of youth mislabeled and incorrectly assumed to be gang members by law enforcement. Gang injunctions lead to increased harassment of people who “fit the description” of anyone on the list, namely Black and Latino youth who already have strained relations with police. Many people on both of Oakland’s injunction lists have never associated themselves with any gang but due to their race, style of dress, and who they associate with in their friend and family circles, they have been targeted.
The injunctions take away due process rights. And many youth on the list cannot afford the mandatory fee to challenge their labeling much less afford to hire an attorney. Some of those named have already been removed from these lists without a court challenge because they spoke out publicly and demanded evidence of their alleged gang involvement. For the remaining defendants, they are lucky to have lawyers who decided to help challenge these injunctions pro bono and these cases are still ongoing. Evidence of gang membership cited for these defendants include things like having a "red balloon" at their house, because any object that is any shade of red supposedly indicates gang affiliation.
These injunctions were not called for by the community. As a case in point, community organizations working with youth and families in the Fruitvale district oppose having a gang injunction in their neighborhood. The architect of the injunctions, outgoing City Attorney John Russo, even tried to prevent the pro bono team from providing representation for these youth. In the Fruitvale, the injunction feels similar to other repressive measures inciting fear among immigrant communities, such as "Secure Communities."
The root causes of violence are joblessness, poverty, lack of access to education, lack of resources, and lack of hope. By investing in schools, community programs for youth, and job creation, our city would be better poised to tackle violence than by using our limited resources on civil suits. For successful community-based models that repairs harm to victims and holds perpetrators accountable without using the broken prison system, we should look at restorative justice projects such as Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice here in Oakland.
Policies to address violence and crime cannot work when they create more distrust towards police and when communities impacted do not buy-in to them. The Ella Baker Center opposes Gang Injunctions because Oakland is tired of violence but Oakland residents are also tired of ineffective and expensive policies that don't work. After the injunction was put in place in North Oakland, shootings and killings in the area doubled compared to the previous year in the first 6 months of the injunction.
Incredibly, Oakland City Council has never actually voted to authorize the use of gang injunctions by the City Attorney and police even though the first injunction was filed over a year ago. A vote is finally scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30PM at City Hall. It is absolutely crucial that people show up to say NO to gang injunctions. It is equally important to call your councilmembers before the Tuesday vote, particularly city councilmembers Kaplan, Kernighan, and Schaaf who have not taken a strong position in favor or against the policy. Nancy Nadel and Desley Brooks have stated their opposition to the injunctions. Ignacio De La Fuente and Larry Reid expressed strong support. Jane Brunner recused herself based on a potential conflict of interest due to affiliation with a law firm involved.
Call these councilmembers now:
Rebecca Kaplan: 238-7008 firstname.lastname@example.org - call regardless of your district
Pat Kernighan: 238-7002 email@example.com - call if you live in East Lake, Grand Lake, or San Antonio districts
Libby Schaaf: 238-7004 firstname.lastname@example.org - call if you live in Laurel, Dimond, Montclair, or Foothill districts
Mar 05, 2012
Jan 17, 2012
Nov 16, 2011
Nov 08, 2011