LOS ANGELES — In a victory against gang injunctions that subject thousands of Los Angeles residents to probation-like conditions without hearings, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California today issued a preliminary holding that the city of Los Angeles likely violated the constitution by enforcing an injunction against Echo Park resident Peter Arellano.
The gang injunctions were obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles City Attorney’s office prohibit a wide range of otherwise lawful conduct, including associating with other people the city asserts are gang members — even extending to immediate family — without a meaningful chance to contest accusations of gang membership.
In 2016, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Urban Peace Institute, and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP filed a complaint against the LAPD and city officials on behalf of the Youth Justice Coalition, which has been advocating for residents unjustly accused of gang activity.
Arellano, the lead plaintiff in the suit, had been placed on a gang injunction in 2015 without a hearing or any other formal chance to refute the accusation he was in a gang.
"For decades, the city of Los Angeles has used the same unconstitutional process to place thousands of young people of color under what amounts to permanent probation, without proving to a court that that they committed any crime or are even in a gang," said Kim McGill, organizer with Youth Justice Coalition.
The suit was brought as a class action, representing the nearly ten thousand Los Angeles residents — mostly men of color. The ruling today strongly indicates that the procedures the city used to determine alleged gang membership are likely unconstitutional.
"The city of Los Angeles has found gang injunctions useful precisely because it allowed them to put people under probation-like terms without bringing a criminal case or providing them any meaningful opportunity to fight the city's allegations," said Melanie Ochoa, ACLU SoCall staff attorney.
"The city has built this tool on a constitutional violation, and they need to stop using it."
Read the court order here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/yjc_-_order_granting_arellano_pi.pdf
This statement is online at: https://www.aclusocal.org/en/press-releases/court-issues-ruling-against-los-angeles-city-gang-injunction