Herrera: Neighborhood residents living in fear of notorious Oakdale Mob
Gang members who loiter, trespass or go out after 10 p.m. in a four-block area of the Bayview could be arrested for misdemeanors under a civil court order being sought by The City.
In a rare move, the Office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, which normally handles civil, not criminal law, filed for an injunction last month against 80 alleged Oakdale Mob gang members and their associates. The notorious Bayview-based street gang has been linked to 12 murders, assaults, car-jackings, rapes, drug dealing and robberies, police and attorneys said.
"The Oakdale Mob is a public menace that has terrorized the community with murders, robberies, car-jackings and drug dealings for far too long," Herrera said. "They’re out of control and my office has an important role to play in policing this gang’s nuisance conduct and I intend to pursue those remedies very aggressively."
One of the purviews of the City Attorney’s Office is to abate public nuisance. Herrera is asking a civil judge to declare the Oakdale Mob gang a public nuisance and issue an order that would prohibit members from participating in 11 activities, such as loitering, publicly associating and breaking a sought-after 10 p.m. curfew, within a four block radius that is considered Oakdale Mob’s turf.
If any of the gang members violate the court order they can be prosecuted civilly, with monetary penalties and limited jail time or criminally as a misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail.
A judge is set to hear the matter on Oct. 30.
The community around the gang’s turf or "safe zone," the four blocks surrounding the intersection of Oakdale Avenue and Baldwin Court, "lives in fear" of the gang, San Francisco Police Officer Len Broberg wrote in the complaint. Gangsters intimidate neighbors into compliance so that they can conduct drug deals, stash weapons and party with relative impunity, Broberg wrote.
Herrera’s office targeted the Oakdale Mob gang because, in addition to numerous complaints from the community and other city departments, the gang members are suspects in 12 homicides during the last three years, including the shooting of Terrell Rollins, a witness in a murder case against alleged Oakdale member Daniel Dennard.
The City Attorney’s Office injunction attempt comes as The City battles a growing violent-crime rate and record-setting homicide rates the last two years.
The injunction, Herrera said, will "enable us to intervene and disrupt illegal gang activity effectively and early before it reaches the level of felony crime."
Most of the suspected gangsters don’t live in the safe zone, police and attorneys said, but they congregate there because they’re familiar with it and they have allies who will allow them to hide indoors when police and rival gangs are in pursuit.
Herrera said civil rights challenges to similar injunctions in Los Angeles and elsewhere have been denied by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the civil rights of law-abiding citizens are paramount, and would be violated by gang activity.
"The overall point is to deal with a criminal organization that is a public menace and is terrorizing the community," Herrera said.
But opponents to the move say it violates the first amendment rights to speech and assembly of those to whom it pertains. "It is a way for law enforcement to get around the constitutional standards when they are investigating criminal activity," Damone Hale, a lawyer who has advised some of the alleged gangsters, said Friday.
Hale said the injunction was written without enough input from the community it affects, and that in the long run, it will cause harm by preventing those it names from associating with their friends and families. "You’re hanging out with your cousin and he happens to be on the list with you, you get arrested."
But acccording to Herrera’s office, community members did have input at a series of public meetings, and the Board of Supervisors signed off on the decision.
Gun violence and drug sales are as inherent to the livelihood of Oakdale Mob as tourism and finance are to The City of San Francisco, according to evidence compiled by the City Attorney’s Office.
In a nearly 1,000-page complaint asking for a civil injunction against Oakdale Mob gang members, experts describe a subculture that thrives on intimidation and violence to silence witnesses and secure drug-dealing territory. Children as young as nine and 10 years old participate in the gang, police stated, and by 18 are "fully indoctrinated" in the lifestyle.
According to San Francisco Police Officer Len Broberg, the main expert cited in the complaint, the 10-year-old Oakdale Mob is an informal gang, meaning it has no single leader. The gang’s territory roughly covers the four blocks of public housing surrounding the intersection of Oakdale Avenue and Baldwin Court. Broberg estimated Oakdale Mob’s membership at about 80 young men.
"Gangs are based on a culture of fear where fear and respect are synonymous and interchangeable terms," Broberg wrote. He described a culture in which children start committing violent crimes such as armed assaults when they are as young as 13 or 14 years old.
Broberg described a 10-year-old boy who was found with a .45 caliber gun at his elementary school. The boy had Oakdale Mob markings on his shoes, Broberg stated.
A police search of the residence of an older alleged Oakdale Mob member, Deshawn Range, found two boxes of 9mm ammunition, clips loaded with 9mm ammunition, a loaded semi-automatic Beretta, .350 caliber rounds and a body armor vest, as well as drugs, the complaint states.
Photos in the complaint show alleged gang members holding assault weapons and pistols and hiding them in trees and utility boxes in the public housing projects.
But the gang’s criminal undertakings are hardly limited to intimidation and drug trafficking, officials say. Five of the gangsters allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old girl in front of whose apartment they hung out and sold crack.
One common theme throughout the gang, Broberg stated, is that of intimidation and protection of territory. He stated that people who attempted or were even thought to have attempted to sell drugs on Oakdale Mob territory had been shot.
On Sept. 19, 2005, according to the complaint, alleged Oakdale Mob members Daniel Dennard and Deonte Bennet shot Arkelylius Collins, allegedly a member of the rival Big Block gang. After allegedly shooting at Collins from a car, Broberg said, Dennard walked up to where he lay on the sidewalk, stood over him and said,"I told you I was going to get you."
A witness to that murder, Terrell Rollins, was gunned down on May 4 of this year when he returned to the neighborhood against the instructions of the District Attorney’s witness protection firstname.lastname@example.org