Saturday, June 19, 2004

Just before I left for the wilds of Utah, the DA in Oxnard was fighting to have a gang injunction imposed against the COLONIA CHIQUES. There was some doubt it would happen. Going through my backlog of clippings and downloads, apparently the injunction was imposed and coppers started handing out copies to individual gang members. As of June 9, seven individuals have been given copies of the injunction that bars them from gathering in public within a specified "safety zone." To be enforced, a copy of the injunction has to be served to individuals and they have to sign for it so there's proof they've been informed. As a result, a lot of CCs are making themselves scarce. If you can't find them, you can't serve them.

Cops and the DA claim that by individuals disappearing, the injunction is already having a positive effect by getting active members off the streets, even if it isn't served to everyone on the list. Injunction violators can face a $1000 fine and 6 months in county.

This injunction is temporary, but the DA will appear before a judge in August to try to make it permanent. We'll see how it works out.

In the past, the LAPD claims success when they applied injunctions to Blythe Street, 18th Street and other neighborhoods. Some people, most notably civil libertarians, activists and gang advocates, claim that injunctions infringe on civil rights. One objection is that an injunction makes it illegal for cousins or relatives to even hang out in a bar if they're members of the same neighborhood. Or that an ex-banger doing gang intervention work is technically breaking the law by going around the 'hood trying to talk sense to the homies from his former set. These are valid points.

Interestingly, though, Father Greg Boyle, who's been a long-time opponent to injunctions had a change of heart some time back. When Chief Bratton asked for and got an injunction covering an East LA neighborhood, Boyle blessed it as a good thing. He said the day after the injunction was issued, his office was filled with homies asking for jobs and claiming to quit the set. My sense is that these guys weren't so much "scared" into dropping out but actually relieved to have a way out without a lot of negative set politics and loss of pride. As in, "I can't kick it with you no more because I can't afford to go to jail." It's an easy back door out and sort of a graceful exit. Let's face it. If you're banging for any amount of time, the anxiety, fear, and constantly having to prove how down you are gets fucking old. Especially when you see the hardest, downest, illest, brick-hard pelons end up in prison, dead or in a wheelchair for life. If I've heard this from one guy, I've heard it from a hundred. It's a shit life and if they see an injunction as a semi-honorable way out, then it may be a worthwhile tool. Even if it crunches right up against Constitutional rights.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

No, I haven't been abducted by aliens. Thanks for all the concerned emails from regular readers. I'm fine and back in LA after almost two weeks of traveling around the Southwest. I've been working on non-gang related projects and I can see by the emails that I've got a lot of catching up to do. I especially appreciate the kind words from my European readers. And I don't mean just you Brits. I thank the European educational system for creating multi-lingual, interested readers from Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Romania. Oddly, I've yet to hear from a French or German reader.

From the emails, I gather that while every Euro knows about the Bloods and Crips, there's very little coverage of Hispanic street gangs and prison gangs like the EME, NUESTRA FAMILIA, FRESNO BULLDOGS and white prison gangs like the NAZI LOW RIDERS and ARYAN BROTHERHOOD. I suspect the popularity of black gangster rap is probably the main reason for the high level of awareness of black gangs. As I mentioned in the past, Hispanic gangster rap has yet to make it into the public consciousness here in the U.S. so it stands to reason it hasn't made it to Europe. Maybe KNIGHTOWL and LIL CUETE should organize a European tour and put SURENO RAP on the European cultural landscape.

Stay tuned. As soon as I get a chance to go through some of the electronic and paper mail, I'll be back shortly with some fresh posts.