OAKLAND -- The future of a hotly contested gang injunction targeting 40 men accused of being active Norteños in the Fruitvale district could be at stake in Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Several decisions are on the table, but perhaps most important is the money -- the council will take its first direct stand on the issue by voting whether the city attorney or Police Department are allowed to spend any more money on either of the two gang injunctions.
There are two cases: one standing injunction naming 15 gang members in North Oakland, and one in the Fruitvale district awaiting a judge's partial decision on whether some of the 40 defendants are active in the Norteños street gang.
The law firm hired by the city attorney to pursue the Fruitvale case is under contract to complete it, and has already been paid.
It's unclear, though, whether the police department would be spending additional money to begin or continue enforcing the injunctions.
As a result, several officials said Monday they weren't sure what the fallout of a vote to defund the policies would be, though it would clearly create a challenge to continuing the process.
The injunctions are a tool of civil law, closely related to restraining orders. If successful, they forbid proven gang members from associating with one another, wearing gang-related colors or being outdoors in a proscribed "safety zone" between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Proponents say the injunctions are a useful tool in combating street gangs, which are behind the majority of the city's problems with violence and drugs. Further, unlike other injunctions that have drawn concern about allowing police to racially profile minority youths, the Oakland injunctions target only adults and require that every defendant must be individually proved to be a gang member before the injunction applies.
Opponents say the police already have strained relations with the community and that allowing them extra authority over the lives of defendants who are not being convicted of any crime will create additional fear and antagonism in that relationship. They've called on the city to spend its money on social programs rather than new enforcement policies.
Nearly half of the 40 men named in the injunction have been arrested for new offenses -- ranging from mild to serious -- since October.
Any Oakland resident wishing to address the council before they vote can do so by attending the meeting at City Hall and submitting a comment card. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.