The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council on Wednesday deferred taking action on a motion to oppose a proposed Echo Park area gang injunction after a representative of the City Attorney defended the injunction, which would include a section of Silver Lake.
City Attorney Michael Feuer plans on adding a five-year time limit on persons served with proposed Echo Park gang injunction, according to the department.
Instead of voting on a motion stating opposition to the gang injunction, the council’s governing body opted instead to send the measure to the public safety committee for discussion by a vote of 11 in support and six opposed with two abstaining.
The injunction would apply to more than 300 members of six rival gangs in an approximately four-square-mile area that includes Echo Park, Elysian Valley and portions of Silver Lake. The injunction would prohibit members of active gangs from associating in public and impose heavier penalties for gang-related crimes committed in the neighborhood. The city claims gang graffiti, spent shell casings and criminals congregating on sidewalks, stoops and parks create an intimidating atmosphere, which infringes on residents’ right to feel free from harm.
Addressing the council before the vote, Capri Maddox, a representative for the City Attorney, defended the injunction by stating the restrictions affected only documented and “active, not passive” gang members. She also informed the attendees that the injunction was initiated by former city attorney Carmen Trutanich, not the current city attorney Feuer, who is set to implement the injunction.
The city attorney representative claimed the leaders of local gangs won’t be served with the injunction until the end of September at the earliest. After several attendees condemned the measure as extreme, a tool of gentrification and a violation of civil liberties, Maddox said there was plenty of time for community meetings on the subject. Although Maddox wasn’t sure if the public would be allowed to speak at an August 21 court hearing over the injunction, Maddox later said she had heard there would be opportunities for public comment.
Board members inquired about the procedure for adding names to the injunction, which has numerous blank slots for individuals to be named, and how the attorney determined who was an active and documented gang member.
Board member Teresa Sitz, who opposes the injunction, asked co-chairs Paul Neuman and Renee Nahum as well as board member Anne-Marie Johnson to excuse themselves from debate because of alleged conflicts of interest. Johnson works for Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who has approved funding for gang suppression police measures similar to injunctions in the past. Newman works for councilmember Paul Koretz. Sitz alleged Nahum, Neuman’s wife, shared his income, which Nahum denounced by stating she owned a business and refused Sitz’s request. Neuman and Johnson both proclaimed their ability to “exercise independent judgement.”
Co-chair of the councils Public Safety Committee Nadine Trujillo expressed logistical concerns about holding a meeting about the injunction before the hearing. Since the legal action affected other neighborhoods, Trujillo believed other neighborhood councils should be involved.
Johnson, who voted in favor of the motion, shouted point of order several times to interrupt discussion about Trujillo’s idea. She stated inviting the outside entities wasn’t necessary because the board was debating a motion by the Silver Lake Neighborhood council, not a number of motions in solidarity by a “coalition of neighborhood councils.”
Board member Charles Herman Wurmfeld voted against the motion because he felt it was a human rights issue, not a public safety issue.
Sitz echoed previous critiques of the injunctions implications for civil liberties. If enacted, the city attorney’s action will prohibit known gang members from assembling in public, a right guaranteed by the constitution.
Some members of the public in attendance were upset and felt their voices weren’t heard.
“You’re not listening!” One member shouted.
“I am listening,” said co-chair Clint Lukens. “I’m also trying to hold a public meeting. Thank you for your commentary.”
Earlier board member Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, who opposed sending the motion to the committee, said the council could debate the issue then and should take action, pointing to the number of stakeholders who attended to speak out against the injunction.
The Public Safety Committee meeting on the motion is tentatively scheduled for August 15th, according to board members. After the meeting, Trujillo said the council would have to find a venue.
* Correction & Clarification: A previous version of the story said that a five-year time limit would be imposed on the gang injunction, which would apply only to individuals who had served time. The five-year provision would apply to served members of the gang, not the entire injunction. Also, individuals do not need to have been previously served time to be included by the injunction. The court order could apply to any active or documented gang member.
- Does Echo Park need a gang injunction? Some people say “No”
- Proposed Glendale Boulevard Corridor Gang Injunction
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.