Family, friends and community activists washed cars Sunday in SanTana to raise funds for the funeral of Angel Arellano. The 17-year-old had been named in a temporary gang injunction against Townsend Street and police say he was slain by gunfire just inside its safety zone. Rosie Iraheta, Arellano's mother, continued to fight against the injunction appearing in Superior Court last Tuesday despite being weakened by terminal breast cancer.
While people washed the suds off cars and towel-dried them in the parking lot of Mexicanismo Night Club, Judge Franz E. Miller had already made the temporary gang injunction against Townsend Street permanent on Thursday–without anyone involved knowing about it.
The Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office sent a press release via Twitter late Friday afternoon before the holiday weekend to announce the news.
"During the litigation on this case, a minor who was an active participant in the gang was murdered, a witness suffered a brutal assault, a woman was shot while waiting for a bus, a loaded sawed-off shotgun was discovered concealed in bushes in the gang's claimed territory, and the gang's graffiti vandalism has continued to plague the area," the OCDA press statement reads, using Arellano's death once again to make its case.
The gang injunction is the 13th in Orange County and the second in SanTana after Santa Nita. The permanent enjoining doesn't mark a significant blow to the ongoing legal challenge. "The judge pointed out in court a couple weeks ago whether there is a temporary or permanent injunction, it operates the same way," says attorney Shelly Aronson. "The only difference is that if it is upheld in the end, the permanent injunction never expires."
The ruling also doesn't change the fact that 10 people named in the injunction will still be given their day in court.
"There are still several defendants who are fighting this all the way," says Aronson. She's representing Ulaio Mendoza, who's been served in the injunction. "The individuals who have their hearings are contesting inclusion in any injunction and doesn't bind them unless they are found to be active gang members. The four interveners are contesting the injunction in its entirety and their inclusion in any potential injunction."
Deputy District Attorney Susan J. Eckermann was unavailable for comment. Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas, who never responded to summons nor showed up at any of the hearings, did offer a statement through the OCDA's press release.
"Our main objective is to bring all available resources to bear on criminal street gangs impacting the safety of our community," Chief Rojas said. "This gang injunction will give us a valuable tool in our efforts for a safer Santa Ana."
Aronson sees it differently. The attorney argues the injunction was shoved through by default in violation of due process rights. "We're going to continue to fight this," she says.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2