Fruitvale organizing against new injunction!

Youth and Families Decry Newly Announced Fruitvale Gang Injunction
Community Groups say City Attorney John Russo’s Actions Target Black
and Brown Youth, Deny Due Process to Defendants “Guilty Until Proven
Innocent”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/11/10

Contact: Aurora Lopez
(510)390-3004 (cell)

WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Thursday, November 11 at 11:00am
WHERE: De La Fuente Way Plaza, 34th Ave. and International Blvd., Oakland
WHO: Fruitvale organizations and community members opposing gang injunctions

OAKLAND, CA. On Thursday, November 11, 2010, At 11:00 a.m,
Fruitvale-area community organizations, youth, and families will hold
a press conference at the plaza at “De La Fuente Way,” at 34th Avenue
and International Boulevard, to oppose Oakland City Attorney’s
recently-announced “gang injunction” that targets forty-two
individuals in the area. The press conference comes one day after the
Oakland Police Department in groups as large as ten officers, raided
the homes of some defendants and their families, and then “served” the
City Attorney’s complaint.

“This is racial profiling, pure and simple,” said Aurora Lopez, one of
the leaders of a Fruitvale-area grassroots coalition that is opposing
the gang injunctions. “They are targeting people of all ages in the
Fruitvale by calling them gang members and they are demonizing our
entire neighborhood by calling it a gang area.” According to the
complaint submitted by City Attorney John Russo, approximately 400
square blocks of east Oakland, including the entire Fruitvale
neighborhood and parts of the San Antonio district, are controlled by
a single street gang. Community organizers claim that Russo is sorely
misguided, however, and that he is simply exaggerating the threat in
order to increase his own political profile.

Attorneys have expressed concern that gang injunction defendants are
“guilty until proven innocent,” because they will be bound by the
injunction unless they appear in court, find attorneys, and convince a
judge otherwise. At the same time, the defendants do not have the
right to a court-appointed attorney. “These complaints are based on
outdated and incorrect information,” says attorney Michael Siegel, who
is working with other attorneys to oppose the injunction on civil
rights grounds. “The City Attorney has already admitted this fact by
dismissing Francisco Gomez, one of the named defendants, from the
complaint.” Francisco is a well known gang-outreach worker who has
focused on reducing murders in Oakland. The number has indeed dropped
from approximately 120 at this time last year, to less than 70 so far
this year. Siegel continues, “John Russo’s idea of thanking Francisco
is to hold a press conference and accuse him of being the worst member
of society.”

Other community members are concerned that Russo’s injunctions are
simply another example of increasingly aggressive and abusive police
tactics. Community activist Sagnicthe Salazar, who has worked to
fight the spread of gang injunctions throughout Oakland says, “The
connections between gang injunctions, racial profiling, and police
violence are very clear, and are a matter of life and death for many
here in Oakland. Oscar Grant, Gary King, Andrew Moppin, and now
Derrick Jones just the other night. We have no other option but to
continue to resist gang injunctions wherever they strike.”

Many community members and organizations have noted that throughout
California, as well as in other states, gang injunctions have done
little or nothing to address violence in communities where they’ve
been implemented. With the city stuck in a budget crisis, those
working to stop the injunctions are calling for Oakland City Council
and new Mayor Jean Quan to speak out against the injunctions, and for
reprioritizing where Oakland puts its resources. Fruitvale resident
Cory Aguilar says, “The gang injunctions are costing the city hundreds
and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Couldn’t we instead support
community members and organizations that are already working to target
the root causes of violence? Couldn’t we try to provide the city with
real solutions such as jobs, healthcare, after-school programs,
re-entry services, and restorative approaches to harm?”