Gang HistoryGangs have been a part society for hundreds of years. Today, they are bigger and moredangerous than any time before. Their origins lay in a lack of education, poverty, and racism.Black and Latino gangs in Los Angeles originally come as a response to white racism, butquickly spun out of control.
White GangsPrior to the 1940s, there were many Black and Latino clubs and clicks, but very few outrightgangs. This was also true of the white population of Los Angeles. However, this changed in the1940s. In the 1940s, the Black population doubled as people came to work building ships andweapons for the military during World War II. At the time, Blacks and Latinos were restricted inwhere they could live. Blacks had to live along Central Ave. and Latinos lived mostly in East LA.As the population increased, some whites feared that Blacks and Latinos would start livingoutside of these restricted areas. Huntington Park, Bell, South Gate, Inglewood, Compton,Gardena, and West LA all had organized white gangs that would seek out Blacks and Latinosand harass them or beat them up. The largest of these gangs were the Spook Hunters. “Spook”is a derogatory term used toward Black people. During the 1940s, the Ku Klux Klan alsoemerged in LA. The first Black and Latino gangs were in response to these white gangs. Thegangs acted as protection for Black and Latino neighborhoods. Incidents such as the Zoot SuitRiots, in which white marines attacked Latino zoot suiters, led to a higher degree of organizationin the gangs of both Blacks and Latinos.
The 1960sAfter the Watts Riots of 1965, “white flight” led to much of South LA and the surrounding areasbecoming mostly Black or Latino. This also led to the some of the gangs beginning to fight each,as there were no longer any white gangs. This was also the time of the Civil Rights Movement.Gangs almost completely ended during this time. Most of the gangs became involved in the CivilRights Movement. Many gang members joined organizations such as the Black Panther Partyand the Brown Berets. These groups wanted Black and Brown communities to controlbusinesses, employment, education, and the media in their area instead of having these thingscontrolled by rich white people and organizations. The Black Panther Party and the BrownBerets wanted to act as a community army, and organized people against police brutality andracism. A good example of this was Bunchy Carter, originally a member of a Slauson streetgang. He became the leader of the Black Panther Party in LA. Street gangs completely stoppedas organizations such as the US Organization, the Malcolm X Federation, the Black Panthers,and the Brown Berets flourished.
The 1970sThe police were very concerned about the Black Panther Party and the Brown Berets. Thegovernment was also concerned, and actively worked to break up these organizations by jailingmembers, spying on members, and placing undercover agents in these organizations. Some
members of these organizations were outright assassinated by the government. Thegovernment called this the COunter INTELligence PROgram (COINTELPRO for short). As theBlack Panther Party and the Brown Berets began to dissolve, street gangs came back. TheBloods and the Crips quickly formed. The Crips started off as having two sets, the East Side andthe West Side. Most of the Blood sets started off as Crips, and then became Bloods as the setsbegan to argue with each other. They both started first with the same ideas of community poweras the Black Panthers had, but without the leadership of the Panthers, both street gangs quicklyspiraled out of control. Around the same time, the 18th Street Latino gang began to form and hada similar history. Different Sureno (Southern) gangs began to form at the Mexican Mafia, a prisongang, broke into two gangs the Surenos (Southerners) and the Nortenos (Northerners). Whatstarted as a small gang in Northern California to protect Latinos in jail ended up being one of thelongest running gang wars in California. There were several attempts at truces during this time,but all of them were broken up by police.
1980sThe 1980s saw a huge increase in the number of gangs. All of the ideas of the Black PantherParty and the Brown Berets were completely lost by this time. The gangs were exclusivelyfocused on territory and crime. The beginning of the Crack Epidemic only worsened the effect,as the number of gang sets increased into the hundreds and spread out throughout the country.The neighborhoods of South Central became very separated at this time. In many areas, eachblock had a different gang, and some blocks had more than one gang on them.
1990sAs the influence of gangs spiraled out of control with the introduction of drugs to the community,the early 1990s saw some of the highest homicide rates ever. However, there was a major dropin homicides after the LA Riots. Much of this has to do with the gang truce that was establishedamong the projects in Watts. In 1993, there was also a major truce among Latino gangs to enddrivebys, and the killing of innocent people. Although the 1990s began very badly, it ended with adecline in the number of gangrelated deaths.
2000 and BeyondToday, gangrelated homicides are at an all time low. Many gang members have foundthemselves in jail due to a huge police focus on reducing the crime rate. At the same time, therehas not been a large decrease in the number of gangs. Today, the political nature of gangs hasbeen completely lost. For many people, gangs fill some sense of family or belonging that wasmissing in their life, however, it has come at a price.
Laws that specifically target gang members
Sections 186.20186.33 of the California Penal Code: This chapter is known as the "CaliforniaStreet Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention (STEP) Act and relates specifically to streetgangs. The purpose of this chapter is to combat the onset of violent street gangs whosemembers threaten, terrorize and commit a multitude of crimes against the peaceful citizens of
Section 28 Part 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 28 CFR Part 23 governs the basicrequirements of establishing and maintaining an intelligence system process. This processincludes guidelines for:
1. Information submission or collection strategies,2. Secure storage of source documents and files,3. Inquiry and search capabilities,4. Controlled disclosure and dissemination of information, and5. Purge and review process for documents and files.
SDPD policy on documenting a gang member
The San Diego Police Department’s Street Gang Unit policy requires that an individual may be"documented" as a gang member when:
He or she has three separate contacts with police meeting one or more of the criterialisted below, or
One contact with three or more of the criteria listed below.
Criteria for documenting a Gang Member
Subject has admitted to being a gang member Subject has been arrested alone or with known gang members for offenses consistent
with usual gang activity Subject has been identified as a gang member by a reliable informant/source. Subject has been identified as a gang member by an untested informant Subject has been seen affiliating with documented gang members Subject has been seen displaying symbols and/or hand signs Subject has been seen frequenting gang areas Subject has been seen wearing gang dress Subject is known to have gang tattoos
Criteria for documenting a Group as a Gang
In order for a group to be "documented" as a gang, all four objective criteria must be met:
The group has a name (or identifiable leadership), and The group claims a turf, territory, neighborhood, criminal enterprise, or causes or
contributes to the deterioration of a community through a pattern of criminal activity, and The group associates on a regular basis, and The group is involved in a pattern of criminal activity (two or more of the felonious acts
listed in PC 186.22f).
What are they?
Gang injunctions are civil court orders that attempt to address crime by using a lowerlegal standard than required by the criminal justice system, resulting in serious civil libertiesviolations. Law enforcement use them as a tool to label people gang membersand restrict their activities in a defined area. Gang injunctions make otherwise legal, everydayactivities—such as riding the bus with a friend or picking a spouse up from work late atnight—illegal for people they target.
A gang injunction is obtained by the City attorney or District attorney who asks a judge to declarethat a particular gang is a “public nuisance” and impose permanent restrictionson the targeted individuals’ daily lives.
Restrictions of Gang Injunctions
Associate Use Gang Hand Signs Wear Gang Clothes Use Drugs Possess or Sell Drugs Drink or Possess Alcohol Possess Weapons Fight Have Graffiti/Vandalism Tools Commit Graffiti/Vandalism Trespass Block Free Passage Shoot Guns Intimidate Have Contraband in Cars Have Burglary Tools Act as Lookouts Litter Urinate in public Make Loud Noise Violate Juvenile Curfew
Gang Injunctions in San Diego
Varrio Posole Locos Oceanside, January 11, 2011
Center Street Gang Oceanside, May 24, 2010
Westside Gang Escondido, March 22, 2010
Diablos Gang Escondido, March 22, 2010
Westside Gang Escondido, September 5, 2007
Diablos Gang Escondido, September 5, 2007
Varrio San Marcos San Marcos, November 28, 2007
Old Town National City National City, October 31, 2005
Vista Home Boys Vista, September 30, 2005
Eastside Piru (a.k.a. "Skyline") San Diego, May 14, 2004
Varrio Posole Locos Oceanside, March 2, 2004
Center Street Gang Oceanside, December 3, 2003
Logan Red Steps San Diego, April 10, 2003
Nestor San Diego, July 15, 2002
Diablos Escondido, July 13, 2001
Westside Escondido, July 13, 2001
Linda Vista 13 Linda Vista, March 23, 2001
Varrio Mesa Locos Oceanside, June 1, 2000
Varrio San Marcos San Marcos, November 1, 1999
Varrio Posole Locos Oceanside, November 25, 1997
What’s at Stake?
Gang injunctions raise a number of civil liberties concerns, both for specific, targetedindividuals, as well as any community member who lives in or visits the designated area.
One of the most troubling aspects is that they often give police overlybroad discretion tolabel people gang members without having to present any evidence or even chargesomeone with a crime. Police are left to rely on things like what someone looks like, where theylive, and who they know. As a result, there is a great potential for racial profiling, with a particularimpact on young people of color. Despite the documented existence of white gangs, noCalifornia gang injunction has targeted a white gang.
People targeted by gang injunctions are not guaranteed their legal right to be notified orgiven the opportunity to defend themselves in court prior to being bound by restrictions of theinjunction, nor are they provided with an attorney.
Additionally, many gang injunctions do not provide a clear way out for people who areeither mistakenly identified as gang members or for those who have turned their lives around.This means that the injunction could follow them the rest of their life, which canmake it more difficult to avoid gang activity.
Are they effective?
Gang injunctions are an ineffective law enforcement tool that does not address the rootproblemsof crime and violence. Los Angeles has numerous gang injunctions – morethan any other city,yet lost more than 10,000 youth to gang violence in the last 20 years.New York is a major citywith the potential for serious gang problems, yet in 2005 Los Angeles had more than 11,000gangrelated crimes, while New York faced 520. What has been shown to work at reducingviolence and gang activity is funding social services, such as gang intervention and preventionprograms, providing jobs and job training, and providing better educational opportunities foryoung people.
Negative Impact of Gang Injunctions
CONSTANT STOPS, PAT DOWNS, ARRESTS AND PERMANENT CRIMINAL RECORDS:Everyone named in an injunction faces regular police stops, questioning, pat downs and arrests.This impacts how they are seen in the community – whether or not they are an “active gangmember,” they gain a reputation for being dangerous. Cycling in and out of court and jail can beconstant, and totally disrupts their sense of security and stability. Each conviction addsmisdemeanors to a record, impacting a person’s ability to access or keep jobs, school orhousing. Furthermore, S.D. County jails are severely overcrowded, violent, unhealthy and filledwith neighborhood and race politics. The constant contact with the system forces many peoplefurther into “gang” politics and violence, it doesn’t offer a way out. Injunctions make it much
harder for people to break fromthe streets or the system and move on with their life in a positiveway.
EMPLOYMENT, HOUSING AND SCHOOL: With the constant police stops and frequentviolations for people named in injunctions, most people cycle in and out of jail. Many people losejobs after only a few days of absence from work. Employment discrimination is a reality foranyone connected to the system. Many jobs won’t hire people with court or system involvement;nearly all jobs include questions about past convictions on their applications. Colleges and highschools have strict policies on attendance, and lockup also causes you to fall behind in yourschool work and lose your financial aid. Explanations about missing days at work or school dueto arrest are difficult to communicate – especially when people have little to no experience withthe police or courts, let alone gang suppression policies, and don’t understand that ganginjunction violations aren’t for new crimes, but for associating with other people, missing curfewsor hanging out on your block. For employers and school officials, your explanations of constantpolice contact and arrests start to sound like those old “dog ate my homework” excuses. Inaddition, gang injunction arrests can also lead Public Housing and Section 8 to evict you, andeven your entire family; and limit your ability to get into housing. Because injunctions cause somany people to lose their jobs, housing or schooling, they often force people back onto thestreets in order to survive. Injunctions make it hard for people to get and keep a legitimate job,attend school and maintain their housing.
FAMILY UNITY AND CONNECTION: Gang injunctions prohibit “association with other gangmembers” even if those alleged gang members are also family members. It becomes acommon occurrence for people to be stopped, questioned, frisked and even arrested within the“safety zone” – the geographic area that makes up the injunction. The fact that family or friendslive in the same house or same neighborhood does not protect people from violation. Parentshave been arrested visiting their small children. Teenagers have been arrested visiting theirparents, uncles or cousins. It is common for family gatherings – birthdays, Christenings, evenfunerals to be raided and those named in injunctions violated. Ultimately, gang injunctions splitfamilies apart. There are ways to prevent violence without injunctions that break families andcommunities apart and isolate already vulnerable people.
COMMUNITY: People who have been in gangs or have trusted relationships with gang membershave an important role to play in building peace in our communities. It usually takes the OGs totalk people out of violence, remove guns from people’s hands, or bring neighborhoods togetherto build and maintain truces and cease fires. But, being named in an injunction makes thisimportant work impossible. Intervention workers face being arrested any time they “associate”with another alleged gang member in the injunction area. In addition, schools, recreation andyouth centers usually can’t hire or even allow people to volunteer who have convictions – and areafraid to work with people named in injunctions. Injunctions severely limit people’s abilities tobuild community safety and youth progress
.THREAT OF DEPORTATION: The S.D. County Sheriffs now check the immigration status of
everyone entering a county jail. Anyone who is undocumented faces transfer to federal detentionand deportation. People convicted of violating injunctions, can be deported even if they are here“legally”. Injunctions make staying in the U.S. much more difficult, and increases the likelihoodthat children will be divided from their parents.
What can you do?
In many instances, organized opposition to gang injunctions only begins once a proposedgang injunction has been filed in court However, the California Supreme Court has held that ganginjunctions are constitutional – despite wellfounded concerns about the violation of individualrights. Accordingly, opposing a gang injunction in court at best results in limiting the terms andscope of the gang injunction and historically has not prevented a gang injunction from beingissued.
Communities have an essential role in organizing in advance of a proposed ganginjunction being filed in court. Activities opposing gang injunctions may include:
• Public education regarding gang injunctions, including what they are, the problems they pose,and the need for real solutions.• Political opposition targeting city officials, including the City Attorney, the Chief of Police,members of City Council, and the Mayor.• Political pressure to adopt prevention and intervention solutions for a community to stop thecriminalization of individuals, while providing real services and solutions that address the rootcauses of crime and violence.
The Community’s Demands
1. We demand community involvement in decisionmaking and strategies affecting ourcommunity. We will not allow elected officials or governing bodies to disregard our concernsand permit laws, ordinances, injunctions, and/or resolutions to be implemented in ourcommunities without an inclusive and representative community decision process. We demandthat city officials attend town hall meetings in directly targeted communities in order to hear arepresentative voice of the people. Community members’ concerns and plans must be includedin any proposed laws, policies, etc.
2. We demand a stop to all proposals,the proposal, implementation and enforcement ofGang Injunctions in San Diego and the removal of all people in a current gang injunctiondatabase.
Gang Injunctions do not address the root causes of violence, such as poverty and,unemployment,. We need access to good jobs, quality education, health care, mental
health services and affordable housing in order to make our communities safe.miseducation,
colonization, lack of family services, and mental health issues.
Gang Injunctions are a means for legalized racial profiling, stripping youth and adults oftheir civil rights. A “war on gangs” is a war on youth and underprivileged communities.
Gang injunctions do not work. Studies of gang injunctions in L.A. found that they either didnot reduce the incidence of crime/violence in the area, actually increased the incidenceor crime or only resulted in a modest decrease in crime. This doesn’t warrant the timeand resources put into the injunction in the first place.
The City of San Diego does not have the money to implement and enforce a ganginjunction.
3. We demand that social and violence prevention programs receive an equal or greater amountof funding as youth and adult incarceration the City of San Diego invest in people, not police andprisons. We insist that the City of San Diego: (1) Allocate a greater amount of resources tosupport communitybased , owned and operated alternatives to the criminal justice system’smechanism of arrest, prosecution, detention and incarceration. . (2) Invest in youth development,drug treatment, recreation, job placement, tattoo removal, education, youth organizing/leadership and/or cultural arts programs. (3) Separate youth development from lawenforcement: Do not require community agencies to share program information, files or youthprogress with law enforcement, which has historically been utilized to criminalize youth. (4) Stopincreasing funding to police, probation, and sheriffs department prevention and interventionprograms. Redistribute these funds to communitybased programs, which are less expensiveand more effective in developing youth and reducing youth violence.
4. Cease the gentrification of San Diego .We demand access to affordable, safe housing. Ourneighborhoods are being flooded with condominiums and unaffordable housing units that drivefamilies, children, working class and poor people out of San Diego. We demand affordable/lowincome housing that takes into account the annual salaries and city living expenses offamilies and working class people, as well as holding the Planning Department accountable inregards to the environmental impact in a community. We also demand these affordable housingunits be inclusive of community programs rather than be utilized as corporate storefronts. .
5. We want an end to “gangster tactics” used by the Gang Task Force. We demand thatpolice officers are held accountable for abusing their authority and using repressive tacticsagainst community members. Members of the Gang Task Force use disrespectful language,threateningly aim guns at individuals, drop people off in “rival territories,” unfairly label people“gang members” in court and in falsified documents, and dehumanize individuals through regularabuse of power. We demand that all police officers are held accountable for their abusiveactions through investigations, punishment, and/or termination.
6. We demand the enforcement of San Diego cease any involvement with I.C.E.
We want an end to police, sheriff, and I.C.E. collaborations; as well as any deportation raids tocease in our communities. Anyone deported to countries with “zero tolerance” for ganginvolvement are in danger of being killed by mercenaries and international governments.
The City of San Diego should understand and protect the human rights of anyone undocumentedand in risk of deportation. The City must recognize that many of these individuals are forced byeconomic and civil conditions to come to the United States as a result of US internationalcorporate expansion.
San Diego County DA’s Office Petition for Removal from Gang Injunction Enforcement
This form is for use by a person living in the County of San Diego who has been served with agang injunction and who wants the opportunity to demonstrate that he or she should not berestrained by the gang injunction because he or she no longer is, or never was, a gang member.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has put in place a review process forthose persons living in the County of San Diego who believe they were wrongly servedwith a gang injunction because they were not then and are not now a gang member, orwho were properly served but have since ended their association with the gang. The reviewprocess is intended to be informal and does not require the filing of any papers with a court orany appearances before a judge. It does, however, require that you either submit a completedversion of this form to the District Attorney’s Office or otherwise provide us with the informationrequested by this form.
A gang injunction will be enforced against you only if you have been personally served with it. Tobe eligible for removal from the gang injunction if you have been personally served, you mustprovide sufficient information for the District Attorney’s Office to positively confirm that:
1. You no longer are, or you never were, a member of the gang named in the ganginjunction; and
2. You are not now acting, and you will not in the future act, to promote, further, or assistany of the activities prohibited by the gang injunction on behalf of the gang named in thegang injunction; and
3. You are not a member of any other criminal street gang.
The Review ProcessThe review process is conducted by the District Attorney’s Office and will involve areview of all of the information in your petition, as well as any other available and reliableinformation concerning your past and present membership in or involvement with criminal streetgangs. You and other people you know who may have information relevant to the review processmay be contacted for additional information. You will be advised of the decision to remove or not
to remove you from the gang injunction at your home address, or, if you prefer for safety orconvenience reasons, at another address. If your petition is denied and you are not removedfrom the gang injunction, you may submit a new petition when you have significant newinformation to report supporting your claim that you no longer are (or you never were) a gangmember.
ConfidentialityThe District Attorney’s Office will keep the information you provide in this petitionconfidential to the extent permitted by law. The District Attorney’s Office will not use statementsmade in this petition to prove any fact essential to proving any criminal charge the DistrictAttorney’s Office may bring against you in the future. However, this information may still be usedto crossexamine you should you testify at a trial in a case brought by the District Attorney’sOffice and should your testimony be inconsistent with the information provided in this petition.Representation by CounselAre you currently represented by an attorney (which includes a Public Defender) in any legalproceeding involving the gang injunction, including (but not limited to) a proceeding in which youare accused of violating the gang injunction: __ Yes __ No
Because of ethical rules applicable to all attorneys, if you answered yes, your petition cannot beconsidered unless your attorney completes and signs Addendum No. 1 at the end of this petition.
How to Submit your PetitionOnce you have filled out this form, please make a copy of it for your records and submit theoriginal.
BY MAIL ONLY to:San Diego County District Attorney’s OfficeGang Injunction Teamc/o Gang Prosecution Unit330 W. Broadway 9th FloorSan Diego, CA 92101
San Diego Petition forms available here:http://www.sdcda.org/preventing/gangs/petitionforremovalfromganginjunction.pdf