Federal court bars city of Los Angeles from enforcing gang injunctions

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Friday, March 16, 2018

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A federal court has barred the city of Los Angeles from enforcing gang injunctions, which restrict people identified as being gang members from doing certain things, including carrying a cell phone or pen, or associating with friends or family members identified as being in gangs.

The district court issued a preliminary holding that the city likely violated the Constitution by enforcing the injunctions without giving those residents the chance to defend themselves.

According to a press release from ACLU SoCal, the enforcement of gang injunctions subjected thousands of L.A. residents -- mostly men of color -- to "probation-like conditions" without hearings or any opportunity to defend themselves or deny they were in a gang.

"This ruling sends the city a clear message: it cannot take away the basic liberties of Angelenos on a whim," said Melanie Ochoa, ACLU SoCal staff attorney. "The city's use of gang injunctions has violated due process for nearly two decades, with no record of making communities safer. That ends today."

The preliminary injunction issued Thursday lifts sanctions from the nearly 1,500 L.A. residents who were still on the gang injunction list created by the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. City Attorney's Office.

Some 7,500 people have already been removed from the enforcement list since the lawsuit was filed in 2016 by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Urban Peace Institute and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, the statement said.

They were removed because officials did not have evidence those individuals were actually active gang members, according to the statement.

Thursday's ruling "strongly indicates" the court would find the policy unconstitutional if the lawsuit went to trial, the statement said.