After months of court dates and city council hearings, Judge Robert Freeman issued a temporary gang injunction in the Fruitvale neighborhood of East Oakland on February 23, 2012. The controversial injunction, which has seen significant public opposition, targets a 400 square block zone and names 40 individuals that the Oakland Police Department alleges are gang members. “Judge Freedman’s ruling is disappointing but expected, given that the court refused to permit the defendants to present evidence that injunctions do not work and actually damage the community” says Yolanda Huang, an attorney representing the named individuals. The litigation of the Fruitvale case has already cost Oakland more than $1 million with costs continuing to rise if appeals are filed, even as the city faces continued budget crisis. City Hall recently axed $28 million from public works, public services and economic development agencies and will lay off an as yet undisclosed number of employees as Oakland’s budget woes continue.
The embattled Oakland Police Department, which is facing federal receivership because it has failed to implement changes stemming from the Oakland Riders misconduct case, will enforce the injunction. “This is the same police department that is responsible for killing our loved ones and that clearly values protecting its own over protecting communities,” says Sagnithe Salazar, a member of the STIC, “We have to assume that the same violent tactics that the OPD routinely employs will be at play in the enforcement of the Fruitvale injunction.” In recent years Oakland has paid out millions of dollars in wrongful death settlements to the families of those killed by the OPD.
Meanwhile, Bushrod Recreation Center, located in the temporary North Oakland injunction zone will host a “Black History Month and Stop the Violence” event for youth, families and the Oakland community on Friday February 24th, from 4:00 to 6:30pm. “It’s our way of giving back and at the same time bringing attention to our programming and positive things happening here,” says Anthony Limbrick, program and activities leader at Bushrod. “We need to celebrate our heritage, and before our kids get caught up in violence, we want to be an intervention, give the kids an outlet, have a good time and enjoy ourselves together.” Every day Bushrod serves over 50 youth in its after school programs and hundreds more weekly through sports and other recreation activities.
“In the midst of disproportionate spending on police and ineffective gang injunctions, events like this at Bushrod are evidence that real solutions to violence, to the scars of generations of police violence and gentrification, must come from community empowerment, involvement and from the people who grow up, live, and work in Oakland,” says Kamau Walton of STIC. “According to the OPD’s own status report, the temporary injunction in North Oakland has failed to stem the violence it purports to address. We will continue to fight to ensure that these injunctions are not made permanent.”