In what's seemingly becoming an annual tradition, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has filed new gang injunctions. Two separate civil suits brought on September 28 targets rivals La Jolla and Plas in Placentia. Together they are OC's 14th and 15th gang injunctions, and mark the first time the OCDA has filed against two gangs in one city at the same time.
While T-Rack's crew declined to comment on the injunctions, residents and men the OCDA is alleging are gang members from both neighborhoods gathered in a classroom at Cal State Fullerton last night. Chicanos Unidos, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Youth Justice Coalition taught them about what injunctions are and how to fight back.
The OCDA hasn't issued a press release on the injunctions, but court documents obtained by the Weekly show that the injunction targeting La Jolla stretches from North Placentia Avenue in the west, the 91 freeway to the south, North Blue Gum Street in the east and West Crowther Avenue in the north. The so-called "safety-zone" for Plas starts where La Jolla leaves off, stretching up from West Crowther Avenue all the way up to East Madison Avenue, then South Placentia Avenue and North Kraemer Boulevard from the west to east.
Twenty-nine individuals, including one minor are named in the Plas injunction. La Jolla has twenty-four people listed and no minors.
"It's very similar to the one that was filed in Townsend," says ACLU staff attorney Caitlin Sanderson, who represents a defendant in ongoing Townsend hearings. "Instead of naming individuals as defendants, they just name the gang and that strips the rights of a lot of people to actually defend themselves."
The ACLU learned of the injunction from residents about two weeks ago. Theresa Smith, the mother of Caesar Cruz who was killed by Anaheim police in 2009, lives in Placentia. She helped organize the community against the injunction as soon as she found out about it. "My daughter knew this young man who received some paperwork and they didn't know what it was," Smith says. "He brought me the paperwork and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was a gang injunction."
Smith immediately got the ACLU and Chicanos Unidos involved. "To see this many people come out shows me that they are a very tight-knit community," she says of last night's gathering. "These are very small communities that help each other out." She's lived in Placentia for twenty years, and her mother was born in the city ninety years ago. Both barrios are among the oldest in OC.
The cases against the two street gangs are relatively weak. The most serious crimes on the Plas injunction stretches back ten years ago, according to Sanderson. There are no murders listed in either injunction. Vandalism is the most cited incident in both of them.
"The police didn't make me sign nothing," one man tells the Weekly on the condition of anonymity. "They just gave the papers and left."
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He met with Smith and found out about the uphill battle he faces getting off the injunction. "I'm trying to get my stuff together raising my kids with my girl, trying to get a house and then this comes along," he says. "I just don't want any of that stuff to follow me anywhere." He reached out to a lawyer who told him representation would cost at least $15,000.
"I want to be able to take my kids to the park and walk around without having to look over my shoulder like I used to," another served man says. "That's the reason I got out of the situation I was in."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2