The city attorney identified 76 alleged gang members Thursday in a bid to secure court orders that would restrict their activities in parts of the Mission and Western Addition neighborhoods.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera is seeking civil injunctions against members of the Norteños gang in a 60-square block section of the Mission district and members of three gangs within two six-block sections of the Western Addition: the Eddy Rock, Knock Out Posse and Chopper City gangs.
Last November, Herrera received court approval to issue a separate civil injunction against 22 alleged gang members from congregatingin public and other activities within a four-block area in the Bayview.
That injunction attempts to stop the crime and violence associated with gangs by hitting presumed members with a civil lawsuit for being a collective public nuisance. The injunction allows The City to pursue a civil judgment, as well as a criminal verdict, against those who violate the court order.
The latest gang injunctions sought by Herrera would cover a larger area — called “safety zones” — than the first injunction, as well as seek additional restrictions, such as enforcing a curfew for those named in the lawsuit and preventing the alleged gang members from wearing gang colors or flashing gang hand signals.
On Thursday, city lawyers filed thousands of pages of evidence with the Superior Court detailing the gang activities — including alleged violence, intimidation and drug dealing — of the 76 targeted for the injunction.
Herrera told The Examiner that the injunctions were necessary to ensure the safety of neighborhood residents caught in the crossfire of gang activity and violence.
“I think we have a moral obligation to do everything the law allows to stop criminal street gang activity before it escalates into tragedies,” Herrera said.
Critics of the injunctions — including Public Defender Jeff Adachi and the American Civil Liberties Union — say a pre-emptive injunction violates the civil rights of those targeted and shortchanges their defense options, because court-appointed counsel isn’t offered in civil cases.
At a community protest against the new injunctions, held on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, community activists and neighborhood residents said they feared the gang injuction would give the police broad discretion to racially target individuals by calling them suspected gang members.
Herrera said he hasn’t seen any evidence of such police abuse in the Bayview neighborhood where the first injunction was approved, adding that crime and violence in that four-block safety zone has been reduced since November.
Public defender slams city’s measure
As city officials promote new strategies to combat crime and violence in some of San Francisco’s impoverished neighborhoods, one elected official frequently breaks ranks — Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
“My interest is in protecting the rights of the individual,” Adachi told The Examiner. “I am often the lone voice on that issue.”
Adachi spoke out at a community rally Thursday against an effort by the city attorney to limit the activities of alleged gang members in crime-plagued areas.
“An affront to the civil liberties of one of us is an affront to the civil liberties of us all,” Adachi said, noting that his parents and grandparents had been among Japanese citizens interned during World War II.
On Wednesday, Adachi joined representatives from the Mayor’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office for a panel discussion on a proposed court for the Tenderloin area that would target some low-level offenses, such as prostitution, and offer services and treatment in addition to penalties of community service.
Adachi told the audience of San Francisco Chamber of Commerce members that he had concerns that the new court program would not provide alleged offenders with due process and that he would “vigorously oppose any system that requires someone to plead guilty in order to get services.”
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