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Tony Marks-Block is an organizer with the Stop the Injunction Coalition. That’s the controversial North Oakland gang injunction that took effect earlier this year. Marks-Block says Oakland’s gangs exist because the black market is the only economy some residents have access to.
MARKS-BLOCK: Oftentimes, it is those commodities, the drug commodities,that can actually control. And that is where the violence comes in, because in order to maintain control over any market, there is always going to be violence. You can see that in oil markets or in any sort of natural resource.
Marks-Block says locking people in prison only locks them into a life of crime.
MARKS-BLOCK: When you get out of prison, of course with a felony conviction, you do not have many job opportunities. So to include a stick measure, like rounding up supposed gang members … one, you’re going to get people who aren’t necessarily gang members but who fit a description into the system. And second, those who are active in organized underground economy activities, they are going to be in that economy for the rest of their lives, because it’s the only option for them once they get out, if they do ever get out of prison.
So instead of bolstering enforcement efforts, Marks-Block would prefer seeing money spent on job training, education and small business development – things that will support the entire community, rather than turning them against the authorities.