The Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA) filed for a preliminary gang injunction on Santa Ana’s Townsend Neighborhood earlier this month and Santa Ana police served notices to those named in it just last week, according to the OC Weekly.
However Santa Ana Police Department Police Chief Carlos Rojas had promised at a meeting of the Santa Ana City Council’s Public Safety Committee that he would discuss any proposed gang injunctions with the affected community before taking any action. He clearly lied.
The boundaries of the new gang injunction’s “safety zone” are: West First Street, South Raitt Street, West McFadden Avenue and South Sullivan Street.
The gang injunction will place what the OC Weekly refers to as “suffocating prohibitions of association in public places that gang injunctions entail are present.” These include: “Do not stand, sit, walk, drive, bicycle, gather or appear with anyone you know to be a member, participant, associate, servant, employee aider or abetter,” or “anyone you know to be acting under, in concert with, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the TOWNSEND STREET criminal street gang.” Exceptions exist for school and church, but not for how people served get to those locations.
Is this new gang injunction destined to fail? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that an injunction against 115 alleged members of the Orange Varrio Cypress (OVC) street gang was so sweeping that enforcement of it’s provisions constituted a “heavy burden” on an individual’s basic freedoms. It was also found that the OCDA’s means of determining OVC gang affiliation carried a “considerable risk of error.”
Under the Orange gang injunction, restrictions were placed on attire, social associations in public, and curfew restrictions within the imposed “safety-zone.” There existed no exceptions for those named to attend church services or exercise their right to take part in demonstrations. And, as the Weekly reported at the time, congregating by a historic Chicano mural by legendary artist Emigdio Vasquez–itself classified by Orange detectives as subversive and crime-inspiring–was considered gang activity, according to the OC Weekly.
Grassroots organizations like Chican@s Unidos and Boys and Men of Color promote preventative programs for youth as a viable alternative to the gang injunctions.