As part of the Urban Peace Institute’s commitment to ending the mass incarceration of boys and men of color, our team partnered with the ACLU of Southern California and Youth Justice Coalition to uplift civil rights concerns through a lawsuit against the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
While gang injunctions seek to curtail otherwise legal activities to prevent violence from escalating in gang entrenched communities, residents of color are often unjustly labeled as gang members through these orders. The City Attorney and LAPD wide discretion to determine whether a person wears certain brands of clothing, hangs out with other suspected gang members, or spends time in suspected gang areas should be included on an injunction. Unfortunately, this broad criteria often criminalizes young men and boys of color based on their neighborhood residence. The Urban Peace Institute believes this wide discretion to determine gang membership, as well as the inability to provide a clear process for appeal and removal from gang injunctions, violates due process rights.
“Police and prosecutors shouldn’t be able to decide to arrest a person for ordinary activity like walking down the street with a friend or drinking a beer in a restaurant, just because they think someone is a gang member,” commented Carmen Iguina, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “Due process means that the government can’t restrict a person’s freedom without a hearing or other opportunity to be heard.”