A lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and LAPD claims gang injunctions violates a person’s right to due process and a former Ramona Gardens resident is one of the plaintiffs. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California says in a statement that gang injunctions subject thousands of Angelenos to probation-like conditions without having a court hearing.
Echo Park resident Peter Arellano and former Ramona Gardens resident José Reza are named as plaintiffs in the suit filed in Federal court Tuesday. The ACLU says neither of them was served with a court order or allowed to challenge the injunction in court.
Reza, 39, is a union carpenter who grew up in Ramona Gardens and now lives in Whittier. He moved out of the public housing complex in 1999 but was served with the gang injunction in 2006. He still has family and friends in Ramona Gardens but, according to the complaint, does not visit them because the LAPD believes “his cousins and lifelong friends are also members of the Big Hazard gang.” The complaint says that Reza has turned down carpentry jobs in Ramona Gardens because of the injunction.
Gang injunctions prohibit suspected gang members from associating together, drinking alcohol in public including at restaurants, and wearing certain types of clothing. Violators can be fined or face up to six months in jail. Gang injunctions are granted when the city sues a gang. When no one shows up in court to represent the gang, the injunction is granted by default. The ACLU says that city attorneys and the LAPD then meet to determine who should be included on those injunctions. They are not warned and evidence is not presented to the individuals for why they are believed to be part of the gang and no opportunity is given to challenge the allegations, the ACLU writes in their statement.
The ACLU says people included on gang injunctions have lost their jobs, educational opportunities and their housing as a result. LAPD chief Charlie Beck and city attorney Mike Feuer are named in the lawsuit.