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Echo Park Community issues an "Injunction" against City of LA

by ion Thursday, Oct. 03, 2013 at 7:42 AM

[This is a report by Vik from a demonstration against the gang injunction in the Echo Park area. It was originally posted to facebook. Some background information is appended at the bottom if you need to learn about what a gang injunction is, and the gentrification in the area.]

Today, Wednesday, October 2, a group of people who oppose the proposed gang injunction for the Glendale corridor marched from Ed Roybal learning center in downtown LA to LA City Hall, protesting gang injunctions and protesting gang injunction for Glendale corridor- Echo Park and part of Silver Lake. I marched with them, including people that I have worked with organizing against gang injunction last two months, members of YJC, Copwatch, Echo Park community people, and even a person from a neighborhood under gang injunction in Pico Union-MS 13 gang.

I made an information flyer for a group I organize with, Southern California Urban network. I felt it helped with the message of the day and gave an overview of the process, and YJC also passed out materials. Chants during the march were really good; it was creative. At LA City Hall we made our statement YJC and Stay spoke and I spoke on my history organizing aganst gang injunction started in 1994 inner city Long Beach.

I had to catch up with stuff because I was not there at the Saturday meeting and the planning that took place for today. The group has come up with an idea of a “community injunction” against City of L.A.: Here are excepts of the document that was passed:

Service of a Community injunction for:

  • Failing to honor democracy by refusing to meet with youth, schools and community before issuing a gang injunction,
  • failing to protecting the rights of all communities regardless of race and income, include failing to end the use of gang injunctions and other policies created by the City Attorney's office that lead to the criminalization, push out of school, incarceration and deportation of youth of color and their families and the massive gentrification and displacement of entire communities.
  • And for promoting the goals, prioritizing the agendas and protecting the project of developers, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and wealthy residents over the rights of Black and Brown communities, poor and working class communities of color, and undocumented families to remain in communities that they lived in for generations.

Community injunction will serve three people: LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, Head of Gang Unit Anne Tremblay and Assistant LA City Attorney Jim McDougal the key guy behind gang injunction for Glendale corridor. This gives you an idea of community injunction I have actually a community injunction with gang members in my organizing against gang injunctions. Anyway, I support the idea of community injunction in challenging gang injunctions and challenging an unfair process that violates civil rights of gang communities.

There is also a challenge of community interveners which was discussed. Also events of Silver Lake Neighborhood Council was discussed. Yea, a corrupt process that was used by Silver Lake NC in preventing a vote against the injunction was discussed. I brought up Echo Park NC voting against proposed gang injunction yet City of L.A. attorney ignored it. I call it a secret clique City of L.A. attorney and LAPD pushing injunctions without input of LA communities and no representation of gang communities.

The key development was the idea of community injunction in supporting six Echo Park oriented communities that are targeted for injunction. City of L.A. needs to be challenged and exposed. It was good that they went after BID that is a big reason why gang injunctions are pushed like Hollywood, Long Beach, downtown la, now crenshaw and Echo Park. We ended by debriefing with the march and rally.

The action today was effective. We issued a challenge to proposed gang injunction and the idea of community injunction is a defensive measure defending communities and challenging City of L.A. I pushed the idea of due process of gang communities. Anti gang injunction organizing is day by day process; this was another day in the process. And, yea City of L.A. is playing dirty and being dishonest on this gang injunction, and yea, violating civil rights of communities. People that planned today's action did a good job. Media people today are clueless on gang injunctions when I talk to one of them she knew nothing of gang injunction? LA media needs to engage on gang injunction and stop printing press release of LA City Attorney and LAPD.

Background (by ion)

A gang injunction is a court order against people identified as being associated with a specific gang. The injunction prohibits behaviors like being seen in public with other associates, possessing tools that might be considered weapons, writing graffiti, or even communicating with gang members.

Gang injunctions are used all over LA County, but the constitutionality of them is a gray area, because they prohibit many protected behaviors.

The injunctions also imply that there's a membership list, and that is compiled by the police in a "gang database" where people are photographed and identified whenever they are arrested. People in the database may be members, or may be considered "associates", meaning someone who hangs out with a gang member. Again, it's a constitutional gray area. Some say that the gang database encourages racial profiling and unreasonable arrests to put more people into the database.

Typically, gang injunctions are not protested, or are protested by a relatively small number of opponents, which include families of gang members, civil libertarians, and community activists. The Echo Park injunction is unique because it's been protested a long time, and within the chambers of the Neighborhood Councils.

The situation in Echo Park differs from most other injunction areas because it's undergoing gentrification. Since the 1940s, Echo Park has been a working class and middle class neighborhood, and during the 1950s to 1990s, it was very much a working class and working poor community, mostly comprising Mexican Americans, Filipinos, some LGBT, and some whites. Southward toward downtown, along Glendale, it has remained a working class and poor community; it's adjacent to the Rampart and Westlake neighborhoods.

The gentrification had its roots in Silver Lake, which, likewise, had been a working class community with a similar mix of Latinos and some Asians, and a fairly large gay community. Silver Lake also had a hilly area where the wealthier people lived. In the 1990s it became attractive to artists and proto-hipsters (pre-hipster) post-punk and Flipside bands. Subsequently, the area had become a destination for middle class people, many from the Westside or other parts of the US.

As the money and people have come into Echo Park, rents and house prices have risen. Poor people are feeling priced out, and also seeing the risks of local government that may evict them, or erroneously identify them as criminals.

Given the existing patterns with "stop and frisk" being used against Black people in Manhattan, the community suspicions about the police and city government are well founded.

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