Criminal Justice

Novel Court Order: No Gang Loitering

In an unusual and controversial approach to criminal activity by street gangs, a California judge issued a preliminary injunction today prohibiting more than 100 alleged members of a notorious Riverside street gang from gathering together in certain public areas.

If it is made permanent by Superior Court Judge Edward D. Webster, it would be the first such court order in Riverside County, according to the Los Angeles Times. The civil suit that led to the injunction names 114 of more than 500 suspected members and associates of the East Side Riva gang. Together, the 114 have more than 300 criminal convictions, the newspaper says.

Three named individuals came to today’s hearing and have until Oct. 12 to file declarations disputing police claims.

“I left the gang in 1991. It’s been so long, but they’re trying to bring it up again,” said machinist Enrique Acevedo, 35. “I got married, I have kids. I have no connection to those guys who are out on the streets.”

Several others said, outside court, that the order will prevent traditional family gatherings at parks.

Chicago enacted an ordinance more than a decade ago that allowed police to conduct street sweeps and order individuals they believed to be gang members to disperse. However, this was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, as a CNN article notes.

Civil injunctions to restrict the activities of gang members are permissible, according to a San Diego County District Attorney Web site, apparently because they focus on specific individuals.

The relatively new injunction approach is now reportedly common in some cities, but still unusual in others. Los Angeles, for instance, has obtained 33 court orders against 50 gangs, but San Francisco is just starting to try the tactic, an earlier post notes.

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