A district judge is barring the Los Angeles Police Department from enforcing nearly all of its remaining gang injunctions, a controversial law enforcement initiative thought to target mostly Latino and black residents of the city’s poorest neighborhood.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the decision was handed down Thursday by Chief U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. In his 22-page order he ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union is likely to prove that most of those identified as gang members under the injunctions were not given a chance to challenge the restraining orders in court and therefore had their due process violated.
Thursday’s decision is an extension of the judge’s decision on a lawsuit filed in 2016 by the ACLU on behalf of various plaintiffs, including a former resident of Ramona Gardens. Last year, the court ordered the release of thousands of city residents whose whereabouts, clothing and even relationships were restricted by the injunctions.
Several known gangs in Boyle Heights were among the nearly 80 under the injunctions, which were established in the late 1980s and ‘90s, when gang violence citywide was at an all-time high. Sections of Boyle Heights were considered among the most dangerous in the city, and law enforcement said the injunctions were an effective tool in reducing crime.
The number of individuals under the injunctions once reached 8,900, the city attorney’s office told the Times, but only 1,450 remained after last year’s purge.
The latest order prevents the city from enforcing any injunction that were granted before Jan. 19, 2018, but it can seek new ones if targets are given a chance to challenge the orders in court.