LOS ANGELES—United States District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on Thursday, March 15 that Los Angeles gang injunctions are likely unconstitutional. In a written order, Phillips wrote that Los Angeles gang injunctions “impose significant restrictions on plaintiffs’ liberty” and that their use has “truly weighty” implications.
This case began in 2016 when the ACLU of Southern California filed a class action suit on behalf of the Youth Justice Coalitions against city officials, notably the Los Angeles Police Department, for their use of gang injunctions. Peter Arellano, was the lead plaintiff in the suit
The Los Angeles Police Department defined gang injunction as a restraining order against a group. It is a civil suit that seeks a court order declaring the gang’s public behavior a nuisance and asking for special rules directed toward its activity. Injunctions can address the neighborhood’s gang problem before it reaches the level of felony crime activity.
“This is a HUGE WIN for our plaintiffs Youth Justice Coalition and all Angelenos against LAPD’s arbitrary practice that has subjected thousands of Los Angeles residents — mostly men of color — to probation-like conditions for years without hearings,” the ACLU of Southern California said in a statement on their Facebook page.
Melanie Ochoa, a staff attorney for ACLU Southern California, welcomed the ruling. “This ruling sends the city a clear message. It cannot take away the basic liberties of Angelenos on a whim,” said Ochoa.
“The city’s use of gang injunctions has violated due process for nearly two decades, with no record of making communities safer. That ends today,” she added.
The list once contained over 8000 individuals. Thursday’s ruling halts sanction on over 1500 people who still remain on list from the LAPD and Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.