A Los Angeles judge Thursday signed off on a permanent gang injunction aimed at six rival gangs in the Echo Park area creating what authorities call a “safety zone” for the area.
The injunction targets the members of six gangs: Echo Park Locos, the Crazys, the Big Top Locos, the Diamond Street Lococs, Frogtown Rifa and Head Hunters.
Superior Court Judge Abraham Khan ruled that the evidence the L.A. City Attorney’s Office presented against the gangs was “clear and convincing” that their conduct and activities cause a public nuisance in the safety zone.
The perimeter for the safety zone is roughly bound by the L.A. River to the north, the 110 Freeway to the east, Beverly Boulevard to south and Glendale Boulevard to the west. It includes the newly renovated Echo Park Lake park and Dodger Stadium.
The injunction, a civil order, prohibits two or more listed gang members from associating in any way in public or in common areas like courtyards. It also allows for stricter penalties if any listed gang member is caught with drugs, alcohol, guns or vandalizing property.
The City Attorney's Office says the rival gangs have clashed for years, resulting in murders, shootings, assaults and extensive graffiti vandalizing private homes and businesses. Police say residents are afraid to report crimes because of gang intimidation.
City Attorney Mike Feuer said that though crime rates have been lower than decades ago when gang crime was at its peak, the injunction is necessary to keep the area's residents safe.
“For me it is very important that the city recognize that these are a necessary but sufficient ingredient in promoting community safety and quality of life," Feuer said.
Feuer said he was working with city departments and community members to brighten streetlights, create safe passages for kids going to schools and deal with nuisance abatement cases.
This gang injunction is different from others in L.A. in that it automatically removes a listed gang member from the injunction after five years if that person doesn’t get in trouble with the law.
Some Echo Park residents and youth advocates strongly protested the gang injunction in an outcry that’s not normally seen in fighting an injunction. The group argued the injunction unfairly targets Latino families with long histories in the neighborhood. They argue that the city’s gang reduction youth department doesn’t even run programs in the area.
Veronica Arellano, an Echo Park resident who has lead part of the opposition, said she was not aware of the judge's ruling.
“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” she said.
The case was scheduled for an Oct. 30 hearing, but that's been canceled since the judge delivered his ruling early.