“Gang injunction part of larger set of failed policing policies”

Oakland Seen
By Helia Rasti | Published May 24, 2010

In Arizona, outside the blinders of the mainstream media, a grassroots movement is building strength to repeal SB1070 and other anti-immigrant measures. Indigenous and Latino families who have been on the land for generations, some before it was colonized to become part of the United States, have drawn the line at the bill’s mandate that all police officers engage in racial profiling to enforce federal immigration law. But in communities where the level of documentation changes from one family member to the next, policing causes more harm than good.

Here in Oakland, we are also building to dismantle a system that targets poor and working class communities of color for physical, economic, psychological and emotional punishment. We believe that the proposed gang injunctions, like all forms of policing, scapegoat individuals for the systemic problems facing our society: a vastly unequal distribution of resources and power that has left public education and social services gutted and our prisons perpetually cramped with repressed human potential.

Today we fight against a controversial gang injunction as a part of a growing movement that says !Ya Basta!, enough is enough. We know that policing, whether it is done by the Oakland Police Department or Immigrations Customs Enforcement, cannot solve our social, economic, or political problems. Locking people in cages, whether in Arizona detention centers or California State Prisons, will not stop harm from happening in our communities. Policing, surveillance, and imprisonment cannot fix the problems that our economic system causes, either in de-industrialized urban centers or in small towns where prisons are promised as solutions to high unemployment.

We need policies that build healthy and stable communities, not ones that tear families apart. We need massive investments in education, job training and programs, affordable housing, community and cultural centers, transportation, mental and physical healthcare, and local food production, and we need those investments to be controlled by the people they will affect. We need to look to non-punitive methods of preventing and responding to the real harm that faces our communities, whether it is from police or from our intimate partners.

In Oakland earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it is the time to be smart on crime, not tough on crime. We think it’s time for him put his money where his mouth is. Rather than offer millions of dollars for the failed strategies of control and punishment, he should give political and financial support to solutions coming from the people who are most affected by policing and imprisonment, from Arizona to Oakland.

[Editor’s note: On May 27th at 2:00 p.m., attorneys representing both sides of the gang injunction will appear before Judge Robert B. Freedman, in Department 20, at the Superior Court. The address is 1225 Fallon St., Oakland, CA, 94612. The Oakland City Attorney is seeking the issuance of an “Ex Parte Application for Order to Show Cause for a Preliminary Injunction and for Preliminary Injunction Against The North Side Oakland Criminal Street Gang (“Respondent”).” This hearing is open to the general public and letters from the public should be mailed or faxed to 510-891-6276 by Wednesday.]