Agnes Radomski, a reporting intern at Pacifica Radio KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles reports on the Echo Park gang injunction by providing us a quick 3 minute audio summary and report. The protest she covers is Youth Justice Coalition’s 50 Mile March 4 Respect. In the audio clip, Agnes describes the specifics of what the gang injunction is as it relates to Echo Park, and plays sound clips of opposing view points and interviews.
We hear the view points of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and that of Youth Justice Coalition.
Audio Clip[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/124094893″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
The injunction creates a 3.8 square mile safety zone. 6 rival gangs located near Echo Park are the target of the injunction. They include: Big Top Locos, Crazies, Diamond Street Locos, Echo Park Locos, Frog Town, and Head Hunters–all classified as criminal street gangs by the Los Angeles City Attorney. The City Attorney’s office says the rival gangs have feuded for many years, resulting in extensive graffiti vandalism, aggravated assaults, shootings and murders.
Under its orders, gang members are not allowed to be seen with each other in public, intimidate or harass members of the community, possess firearms and narcotics, or drink in public.
Rob Wilcox is the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach for current Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer:
“There was a public nuisance that was caused by the conduct and activity of each of the gangs in this area.” (Wilcox)
But critics question the effects gang injunctions have on younger members of their communities. Kim McGill is an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalitions, the group behind today’s actions.
“LA County continues to criminalize youth at a very alarming rate, and one of the ways they do that is to put in place gang injunctions. It’s pretty much like Martial Law, or a huge restraining order on a neighborhood, limiting young people’s movements, their right to congregate, especially with each other, and in many ways their ability to stay in school, stay in jobs, stay in public housing.” (McGill)
The protest is part of the 50 Mile March 4 Respect across Los Angeles County to bring awareness to California’s high rate of incarceration. They plan to present the LAPD NorthEastern Division with a list of demands:
“Stop the Echo Park Gang Injunctions, put a moratorium on all gang injunctions in the city, and open the issue up for public hearing so that the community can come out and talk to law enforcement and the City Attorney about the impact gang injunctions have on the lives of the people and their families.” (McGill)
McGill is also raising concerns about the criteria used to determine who qualifies as a gang member, a process she notes is broadly based.
“And the criteria is so broad that almost any young person of color living in some neighborhoods could be targeted [to be] allegedly gang involved. And gang injunctions also usually include gang members, gang associates, and gang affiliates, so that includes family members, friends, people you hang out with, people who live on your same block. it doesn’t require a criminal past or an arrest record or any proof in the courts that you’re active.” (McGill)
Wilcox disputes those accusations:
“These are documented gangs, and members of the gangs, and you have to be one of the six gangs that are named in this injunction in the Glendale corridor. And if someone is not a member of one of these gangs, they can come to us, they can come to the court, and if they are not a member of the gang, they will be taken off the injunction.”
Protesters plan to end today’s rally with a meeting between community members and Captain Jennifer Thomas of the NorthEast Divison of LAPD, the division that McGill says brought the original gang injunction against six neighborhoods.
The recording and its content are property of KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles.