Highland Park’s gang injunctions up for debate

Highland Park shooting scene


HIGHLAND PARK— The definition of a gang injunction ranged from a tool against crime to a violation of civil rights according to a six-person panel that met last week to discuss the impact of gang injunctions in Highland Park.

The discussion took place in the wake of at least 19 shootings since February that police have blamed primarily on the Avenues and Highland Park gangs. Meanwhile, the Highland Park Neighborhood Council is contemplating whether to continue supporting the three gang injunctions now in place.

City Attorney Arturo Martinez began his presentation last week by reading the boilerplate definition of a gang injunction: a civil lawsuit filed against a gang, restricting it and its member from congregating or committing any illegal acts in gang territory.

The first gang injunction in Highland Park was filed against the Avenues gang in 2003. The six-page court order lists a number of restrictions, including associating with other gang members, drinking in public and a 10 p.m. curfew. Other more obvious restrictions include tagging, selling drugs and possession and use of deadly weapons. In 2006, two more injunctions were filed against the Highland Park and Dogtown gangs.

Despite the recent shootings, Capt. Jeff Bert of the LAPD Northeast Division, which patrols Highland Park, credits the injunctions for a long-term decrease in crimes committed by gangs. The reports of gang crimes fell from 443 in 2003 to 130 in last year, according to LAPD.

But Catherine Wagner of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said that violent crimes might have fallen because of an increase in police presence. While the injunction may have played a role in the decline in crime, Wagner said that the ACLU is concerned with the process.

“The person doesn’t have a chance to go before a judge and argue that he should not be included on the injunction until after he’s arrested and charged with the misdemeanor of violating the injunction,” said Wagner.

Robert Cristo, a member of the Youth Justice Coalition, said that an injunctions criminalize youths for living in a poor neighborhood or just speaking to the wrong people.

“These kids are at the mercy of police, and they’re on the fence about gangs,” said Christo, who is named in an injunction. “But if they’re treated like criminals, they’ll assume that they’re already criminals in the eyes of the law.”

Cristo is in the process of removing himself from the injunctions, a lengthy process that involves character recommendations, references and a meeting with a meeting with representatives of City Attorney.

“It puts the burden on the individual to prove that he or she is not a gang member, when typically the government bears the burden of proving that they have a good reason for curtailing your rights,” said Wagner.

But Lt. John Cook with the Northeast Detectives said that while gang injunctions may not be popular, they do work.

“You can see, statistically, there is a decrease in crime,” Cook said. “I’m not just saying that because I live in Highland Park, but also because I work here.”

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.

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  1. Another example of the ACLU being completely insufferable.

  2. glassellparkgringo

    I mean if they seriously lift the injunction that is the stupidest council in LA. The argument that people who “are on the fence about joining a gang” should be able to talk to “suspect characters” in order to not join a gang is absurdity. 19 shootings… Please.

    Glad the area where I live they keep the Drew Avenues trash off the streets.

  3. Lift the injunctions in Echo Park and surrounding areas too. The injunction is not a tool to keep the current residents safe, its a tool to push out lower income residents and attract wealthier individuals.

    • Poor people use gang violence, illegal dumping, littering, graffiti as tools to keep their rent artificially cheap because that’s all they give a shit about, cheap rent at all costs

    • Not this lame cop-out again.

      • Well why don’t “community groups” like the Northeast Los Angeles Alliance spend any time or resources protesting gang violence? Why do poor people dump all their rotten furniture on the street when they go on ikea sprees? Why do shitty little teenagers throw mcdonalds bags out their car windows? Because poor people renting apartments don’t really give a fuck about the neighborhood or the community, they care about themselves and their cheap rent and how that should last forever.

    • Yeah. Let’s make it all good for gangs. That should make everything better. …says noone.

  4. Gang injunction up for debate? Good, make it stricter and more debilitating to those vermin.

    Lifting it would be complete idiocy and a damn travesty considering the current wave of violence. Do people seriously want more shootings?

  5. This city needs to put pressure on gang members. The messed up thing is that gang life is so inviting to the less educated and easily influenced youth with out the “family injunction” pressures of parents and siblings. I don’t care what color, culture, or household income a person comes from, there is a void in young peoples minds that needs to be filled with acceptance and belonging and gang life is there to position itself in OUR youth. Life imitates art and quess what’s coming up?- a film about gangsta rap about a group if angry med from south central. Now I’m not saying the movie is bad, I am just saying it will be influencial, it will bring a new attitude. Yes, in this nation we may think “Fuck the Police” because it has to be said and it was popularized by NWA but there is also attitudes of mysogany and gun violence that is very problematic. I watched my buddies get caught up in gang violence and welcomed them back from prison after wards. We came from that 80sbera.!The violence had gotten worse lately these days. We need a gang injunction. And we need a fucking “Daredevil” too. More kids should read comic books and learn about stories about good and evil. Growing up in HLP I was a skater and I always thought pelones/gangsters were fronting, posers, that hid behind the names of there groups. Never back down for them! On a final note, Another World Comics forever and skate or die!

  6. The current gang injunction is needed on a deep level in this community. Working families trying to raise their children in a safe environment is our main concern, not the rights of gang members. It is asinine to think this injunction should be terminated.

  7. The gangs in NeLA have deep roots that no gang injunction will uproot them. The three main gangs in Highland Park have shed so much blood that for a new resident its very hard to comprehend the type of love these gang members have on this community. Everyone must remember that Highland Park is a barrio. This is life in the barrio, gangs. What the community must learn is not to be freightened by these low lifes. I urge all people of the community to walk their streets with their children, and when they come across one of those low lifes, point out to them how they should never become that.

    • I think we can all agree with your last sentence, but I don’t buy anything else you’re saying. Theyve shed so much blood and have so much love for their community, really? These are not selfless warriors defending their land from evil, these are barely literate violent selfish idiots who could care less about anything other than proving their own machismo and are too brain dead to learn any trade or skill to make a real living. They can’t be uprooted? Please. We’re not talking about the Middle East here with thousands of years of history, these are some morons who have been stinking up the place since the 50s. I say we can and will boot ’em all out. Once the rents raise and they are too poor to afford it, once there’s a tipping point of newcomers with more class and influence who know how to affect change instead of just accepting shitty surroundings as the norm, the neighborhood will clean up and then trash will get swept out.

      • To actually think that money brings ‘class’ is as stupid as stupid does. A persons character is where class resides. So to think of poor people as trash shows that you Neighborino have no class.

        • I don’t think all poor people are classless. I think the ones who throw their old couches on the curb, throw mcdonalds bags on the street, tag walls with useless graffiti, and treat their surroundings like a garbage can have zero class.

  8. The notion that we are continpating revoking gang injunctions is in my opinion and insane idea. Some of the anecdotal evidence of gang members dmfeeling disifrangized fail to account for the community as a whole who is held hostage by there criminal behavior. They aren’t boy scouts they thrive on intimidation and have wage havoc on this community . Why in gods name would one entertain the idea to give them the grounds to reestablish free reign as they had in the past. The notion that somehow the anti gentrification motives should dictate this debate because they are some who feel that that’s a greater threat than gangs is ridiculous. They was one panel member who brought that up trying to garner sympathy from some of the anti gentrification audience members which showed to me how hollow this entire debate really is. I’m sorry but when you see 19 shootings in such a short period of time all perpetrated by gangs now is not the time to lift and injunction. That’s just insane to me. I have to admit I have lttle sympathy towards anyone who chooses to prey on there community then turn around and complain of restrictions placed on them. It’s like somehow they feel there activity or feelings trumps the entire community. A life of crime and despair has no place in a civil society and the fact that some think so lightly of the outcome if the injunctions are lifted buggles the mind.

  9. One more point what about the fact that some of these gangs deliberately targeted blacks, what about there or our rights, wouldn’t that constitute them a hate group? Why remove the restrictions why condemn the community to those who wish ill. I urge all to look at the crime stats prior to the injunctions and read for yourselves what this tool covers. Go to the city attorney’s web page. You will see all that it covers and restricts. It also breaks down what constitutes a criminal activity. Reading that should help clarify the reasonsing.

  10. One more point what about the fact that some of these gangs deliberately targeted blacks, what about there or our rights, wouldn’t that constitute them a hate group? Why remove the restrictions why condemn the community to those who wish ill. I urge all to look at the crime stats prior to the injunctions and read for yourselves what this tool covers. Go to the city attorney’s web page. You will see all that it covers and restricts. It also breaks down what constitutes a criminal activity. Reading that should help clarify the reasonsing.

  11. How many ACLU lawyers live east of Lincoln Blvd? F them.

  12. Hooray for dropping crime rates. I just wonder how easy it is to get on the police’s lists and what process and costs are involved in getting off them. People choose or have life circumstances push them into the gang life. Putting them on a permanent list of bad people creates a legal barrier on top of all the other legal, cultural, and economic barriers your typical gang member has between them and a noncriminal way of life.

    Again, hooray for dropping crime rates but boo on creating a permanent legal criminal class without providing clear way out of that criminal classification and lifestyle. We can’t expect every undereducated, poorly raised, impoverished kid to boot strap their way to the middle class. Heck, our middle class kids can’t stay middle class these days!

    • The only problem I have with you analysis is that they are avenues to get off that list. Not getting on the list in the first place because of criminal activities should be what we focus on. I do believe people can turn themselves around however getting rid of a tool which has been working to satisfy some who claim to be disenfranchised pails in comparison to an entire community terrorized by there actions. This is one of many tools to combat gang activity. It should be kept in place. Maybe reform some of the process to help those legitimately who want to turn there lives around but they made that choice once they decided to live a life of crime. As I said this is one of many tools. The idea that we should stop it is insane. Of course we can’t expect every uneducated poorly raised impoverished kid to not turn to this but they are lots of those same people trapped and held prisoner by these same folks. Glorifying crime and given guys a free range to operate helps to create a fertile ground to recruit and grow the ranks. It’s a systemic problem which needs to be tackled on all sides.

  13. Violating civil rights my A** What about the rights of the public and residents who live in that community who are tired of having their property and/or neighborhood being tagged all the time or hearing gun fire living in fear in their own community!!?

  14. get these newcomers out of my community

    • “Deal with it.”

    • do you own property? no? well then there’s nothing “yours” about it. if you do, then you should be glad that people with class and influence are coming into the neighborhood to clean it up and raise your property values.

    • “Get these jews out of my country” – Mando Medino’s German twin circa 1938

    • Martin Arredondo

      You mean the undocumented newcomers?

    • Mando “self proclaimed owner of Highland Park” Medina everyone.! It’s his neighborhood, and if you don’t like gangs, you better shut up and leave. LOL. SMH.

  15. There are MANY low income, hard working families (most of them are immigrants) in the neighborhood who have managed to raise educated, positive, hard working children who did not opt into the gang life. These are the folks that should be rewarded by creating a safer environment. The gang injunction is one way to a safer community, so I say KEEP IT. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. These are the consequences for a life in crime. Those of us in the community that have lived here for many years are FED UP with the gangs and the stricter it gets for them to commune openly on the streets, the better. We want a safer community. End of story. AND don’t say we are new comers. My husband has lived in the neighborhood since he was a kid living with his single mother down by the train tracks in HP.

  16. And you wonder why there is tension now between the newcomers and the Latino community , SMH

    • Juan our photo

      Don’t let the door hit you in your racist ass on the way out Mondo Medina.

    • What does this have to do with “the newcomers”? Seems like all the tension is within the “Latino community” since they are the ones shooting at each other.

    • Please explain to me the tension between HLP and AVEs. Which one is considered the “newcomers”?

    • Martin Arredondo

      Don’t lump the loser Latinos in the hood with us hardworking Mexican americans who actually bought homes at the right time instead of pissing their lives away in some lame ass gang.

  17. (PEOPLE WITH CLASS) yea…. FYI you don’t own property you own a mortgage , get it straight

    • call it owning a house or owning a mortgage, nobody’s making me leave my house but me. your broke ass will get bounced at your landlord’s whim when they can make a bigger profit selling than renting to you. Mando Medina is so poor he opened an email account just to eat the spam

  18. IT’S NOT YOUR House IT’S the banks house, smh

    • Actually, I got a decent job, saved all my money and paid CASH for my house bruh…

    • Mando: It’s way past time for you to stop talking out of your ass. Paid my mortgage off 15 yrs ago. You have no clue what you are talking about and your ignorance really annoying.

    • Martin Arredondo

      It’s not your apartment your renting it’s one of Donald Sterlings slum apartments.

  19. Mando Medina’s so poor his idea of a fortune cookie is a food stamp in a tortilla

  20. Mando Medina’s so poor he dropped a penny and lost his life’s savings

  21. Tons of unintentional humor here. Enjoy:


    • Martin Arredondo

      Awesome. Now we know what this clown looks like. What a idiot . Lol.

      • LOL! SMH!

        • Aldo Thee Apache

          Wow. You’re right, so much great stupidity on display he’s gotta be a troll.
          Or special needs. Can staggering ignorance be considered special needs?

          My favorite from Mr. Latino Pride himself is Cinco De Mayo being referred to as “Happy Mexican independent day” (fyi “Independence” day is actually Sept. 16th).

  22. he’s mexican and has no idea cinco de mayo isn’t independence day? could be worse i guess. I’ve met mexicans who have no idea what Spain is

  23. Cash yea right roflmao

  24. They use the word gang injunction because they know if it has the word GANG in it people are less likely to read the details. Does anyone here know what a gang injunction actually is? The ACLU is is essentially arguing the fact that police get to determine on the spot who is and isn’t a gang member. Essentially a license to stop anyone for crimes such as congrats ting or being out past 10.

    “The person doesn’t have a chance to go before a judge and argue that he should not be included on the injunction until after he’s arrested and charged with the misdemeanor of violating the injunction,” said Wagner.

    Of course mostly white people are like well that’ it’s ok to charge other people based on suspicion because they know it will not likely affect them. This type of gang injunction is not ok and whether white people believe it or not it’s a slippery slope.

    If you want to create a gang injunction that respects probable and not the individual discretion of a police officer then HELL YES… But for this attack on civil liberty tagged as a gang injunction, HELL NO.

    • * congregating ** respects probable cause

    • …except that’s not how it works at all. The police don’t get to “determine who is a gang member on the spot” – quite the opposite. There are a myriad of hoops the police have to jump through in order to get anyone on the list. It’s all these hoops that really limit the effectiveness of the injunction. As usual, those opposed to the injunction don’t even have the basic facts.

      • uh read the injunction and also the ACLU assessment

        “The person doesn’t have a chance to go before a judge and argue that he should not be included on the injunction until after he’s arrested and charged with the misdemeanor of violating the injunction,” said Wagner.

        You think they made up this argument so they can go spend their time and money on something that would clearly be thrown out as made up?

        The injunction states gang members, their “employees”, “associates” and on and on basically anyone a gang member might run into as targets of the injunction you think the cops have a verified list of these people named in the injunction….F#@k NO

        Did you do any research or did you just hear the word gang and decide this was a good idea.

  25. And when the bodies start piling up again who’s going to take the blame..the ACLU, probably not!

  26. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, marino is funny……………………..uh no gang injunction does not stop gangs, as a matter of fact gang activity is a its all time high since the 90s the gangs have been here for over what 40 years newcomers are not going to get rid of them even with your gentrification, get over it and deal with it. And don’t catch a stray bullet walking down the streets of HLP at night

    • Know what’s really funny, Mando “DWI” Medina? Is that someone who obviously has no sense of history and exists here solely because of illegal immigration uses the term “newcomers” unironically to insult others.

      • @LeBarton …puleeze to be fair even by the united states own laws and agreements much of the united states is based on illegal immigration.

        @impoundguy huh why would the ACLU take blame for murder by fighting a law that tramples constitutional rights in order to achieve its goals. That’s is the whole point of the constitution that without due process EVERYONE is at risk.

        Are the legislatures going to take the blame for writing a law that violates our rights and puts a nation at risk of oppression and then civil unrest ( i.e. lots of violence and murder) instead writing a law within bounds of the constitution…which by the way is completely possible

    • We have different definitions of “deal with it”. The way us newcomers “deal with it” is to fix up our homes and yards to look nice, call 311 on stupid bird brain lowlives doing graffiti and illegal dumping and not putting up with retarded ghetto nonsense. The way poor people like Mando Medina “deal with it” is accept that their world sucks and there’s nothing they can do about it. The way we “deal with it” your broke ass is gonna be booted out of the neighborhood within 5 years.

  27. There’s been so many new homeowners over the last five years who have paid double what our homes once cost, so we’re obviously paying higher property taxes. More of it should be distributed to hiring more police patrol for our area. Just my two cents. It’s only fair.

  28. whats wrong with newcomers????? L.a Times called them newcomers????? get over it

  29. Most Latinos who value order and cleanliness are thrilled to see ghetto-ass losers squeezed out of Los Angeles entirely.

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