Los Angeles police have officially begun serving suspected gang members in the Echo Park neighborhood with injunction papers that prohibit them from hanging out together in the area.
The gang injunction covers about four square miles of Echo Park and Silver Lake. It’s aimed at six gangs. The injunction makes it illegal for gang members listed on the injunction from associating in public. It also adds penalty enhancements for gang members caught committing crimes. Among the prohibitions in the injunction:
- Do not associate with other gang members.
- Do not use gang hand signs and/or wear gang colors and attire.
- Do not use, possess, sell or transport illegal drugs.
- Do not drink or possess alcohol.
- Do not own, use or possess any dangerous or deadly weapons.
- Do not commit graffiti/vandalism and/or possess graffiti/vandalism tools.
- Do not intimidate, threaten or harass people.
“We already know one person who got served,” said Veronica Arellano, an Echo Park resident who is part of a group that opposes the injunction.
For almost a year, some neighbors and family of gang members have fought the city Los Angeles in court.
They claim the injunction is a political tool to clear the gentrifying neighborhood of established residents. They also say it inaccurately identifies some people as gang members and that it's not needed because of falling crime rates. Other activists argue gang injunctions are a harsh tool that create tension between the community and the police.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted the city of Los Angeles the authority to serve individuals with the gang injunction, but the city attorneys’ office waited a few weeks before it started serving injunction papers.
“We knew it went through,” Arellano said. "But we're wondering why are they are being quiet about it.” She said she noticed more gang unit patrols in the neighborhood this week and last.
There are now 46 gang injunctions within the Los Angeles city limits, most of which are concentrated in the central part of the city.
The Echo Park gang injunction (officially filed as the Glendale Boulevard Corridor Injunction) is different from other injunctions in that listed gang members will be automatically removed from the injunction after five years.
But the Echo Park injunction, like the 45 others, is permanent and city attorneys can go to civil court with evidence if they want to keep someone on the list or add new gang members to the injunction.