Tues. March 1, 2011
I first heard the term “Gang Injunction” about a year ago. The definition varies depending on who you ask, but my interpretation goes something like this:
The injunction would make it illegal for certain “gang members” to be together in public or take part in a range of activities that are already illegal. Gang injunctions are civil orders that are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Supporters of such measures say they make neighborhoods safer by cracking down on gangs and crimes. Opponents say injunctions criminalize daily activities, lead to racial profiling and give police too much power.
What I see here is yet another misguided attempt to make our communities safer by pumping increasingly scarce public funds into law enforcement. In so doing, we perpetuate oppressive systems that rob the most vulnerable in our communities – poor/working class, people of color, youth – of their civil rights without making anyone any safer in the process. What’s more, these injunctions fail to address the root causes of violence in our communities: high unemployment, rapidly deteriorating public services and an overall lack of opportunity for any kind of upward mobility.
Regrettably, I have not been very involved in the anti-gang injunction efforts that have been taking place around the Fruitvale and North Oakland neighborhoods for over a year. So, I was stoked to hear about the community bike rides being organized around the affected areas to help spread the word…