Orange County's seventh gang injunction was signed today, the latest reportedly targeting the Hard Times gang. According to officials, the targeted Garden Grove gang "is a violent, traditional turf-oriented gang that has been active since the 1970s with approximately 190 documented members."
Identical statements issued by the Garden Grove Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney's office do not name the gang, but the Orange County Register reports Garden Grove police officials identified it as the Hard Times street gang. According to the statement:
"A permanent injunction was signed today by the Honorable Kazharu Makino against a Garden Grove criminal street gang, marking the first of its kind in Orange County to be brought against the institution of the gang as the sole defendant. All documented members of the gang will be subject to injunctive gang terms to prevent them from terrorizing their community and acting as a public nuisance."
The statement goes on to say Garden Grove officers served the injunction to 49 of the gang's most-active members from Dec. 15- 22, 2009. That police force will also enforce the injunction.
Gang injunctions prohibit people the government has identified as gang members from participating in specific acts or activities that may not be inherently criminal, such as wearing certain clothing, hanging out with friends or even standing within so many feet of gang graffiti. The stated aim is to curb intimidating or harassing behavior, but the injunctions have come under fire from civil libertarians and residents of some targeted areas.
Those found to have violated gang injunctions face arrest and prosecution.
"Gang members who are subject to the terms of the injunction against the Garden Grove criminal street gang include the most active gang members who are well-documented through personal admission and/or affiliation, associating with known gang members,
dressing in the style of the gang or having gang tattoos, possessing gang paraphernalia, and/or committing crimes for the benefit of the gang," reads the police/DA statement.
A 4.46-square-mile "Safety Zone" is identified as being east of Newhope Street, west of the Santa Ana Flood Control Channel, south of Chapman Avenue, and north of West 1st Street.
"Between December 2005 and May 2009, criminal activity within the Safety Zone resulted in the documentation of four gang members participating in three murders," reads the statement. "The number of gang members documented and/or arrested during this time for committing the following crimes in the Safety Zone include: 12 for attempted murder, 17 for assault, 50 for firearms or dangerous weapons violations, seven for burglary or possession of burglary tools, five for vehicle theft, 73 for drug violations, 21 for fighting, one for robbery, 389 for graffiti or vandalism tools, 42 for disturbing the peace, 29 for intimidation, 88 for alcohol in public, 20 for trespassing, 25 for blocking free passage, five for displaying gang hand signs, 18 for wearing gang clothing, 213 for loitering, 139 for curfew, 390 for associating with other members of the same criminal street gang, and for 166 violations of other laws. Additional crimes were committed but not documented because many citizens that live and work in these neighborhoods are reluctant to cooperate with police for fear of retaliation from the gang."
Complaints from law-abiding residents within the Safety Zone are included in the statement:
"I have children and we never go outside," says an unidentfied mother. "We are always indoors because I am very scared that there will be a drive-by shooting and one of my children will be injured or something worse. I always see the children of some of my friends outside in the neighborhood, but I am too worried and prefer to teach my children to stay indoors. They are growing up and they want to go out with their friends. I am still scared."
"We have many vacancies since the last big shooting," says an anonymous apartment manager. "I have lost [several] good residents that moved out. We still have vacancies. We are having a hard time filling them. Many of these new teen gang members have guns on them. It is scary. The shootings, fighting, thefts, vandalism, drunkenness and loitering is out of control. In my years managing in the area, it is more violent than it ever has been."
The statement ends with the following update on Orange County's other six permanent gang injunctions:
* On Nov. 3, 2006, the first Orange County gang injunction was made permanent against a Santa Ana criminal street gang. Gang related crime in the Safety Zone has decreased by 55 percent.
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* On Feb. 9, 2007, an injunction was made permanent against an Anaheim criminal street gang. Serious and violent felonies have decreased by up to 40 percent in the Safety Zone.
* On Jan. 25, 2008, two injunctions were made permanent against rival criminal street gangs in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. This has resulted in a 13.5 percent reduction of gang related crimes in the San Clemente Safety Zone and a reduction of 28.5 percent in the San Juan Capistrano Safety Zone.
* On Sept. 26, 2008, the fifth injunction was made permanent against the first Orange criminal street gang. There has been an 18 percent overall reduction in violent crime in the Orange Safety Zone.
* On May 14, 2009, the sixth gang injunction was made permanent. The injunction was against a second Orange criminal street gang in the City of Orange and has resulted in an 18 percent reduction in violent crime in the Safety Zone.