Los Angeles police and prosecutors can no longer blanket entire areas of the city with gang injunctions and must instead use them in a more targeted, deliberate way under the terms of a court settlement reached last month.
The settlement resolves a class action lawsuit filed four years ago by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Youth Justice Coalition. In the lawsuit, the groups accused the city of violating the civil rights of thousands of residents who were swept up in the gang injunctions without being given the chance to challenge their designation as gang members in court.
A federal judge ruled in March 2018 that if the case proceeded to trial it was likely that the city’s process for enforcing injunctions would be struck down and barred the city from enforcing nearly all of its active injunctions.
The injunctions, which are civil court orders issued by judges, are used throughout the state and were designed to make it difficult for gangs to operate by barring members from congregating with each other or associates, wearing clothes with gang colors or engaging in other activities in neighborhoods that law enforcement considered to be a specific gang’s turf. Suspected violators were typically detained by police and charged with criminal contempt.
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