Injunction junction, what’s your function?

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig promising to kick crime’s ass.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig promising to kick crime’s ass.

Photo by Larry Dalton

After five years, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig has almost, almost, come up with some gang-suppression tools that don’t blatantly violate the Constitution.

But not quite.

Earlier this month, the state court of appeals upheld several parts of Reisig’s latest iteration of a controversial civil injunction against the so-called Broderick Boys street gang of West Sacramento. To hear Reisig tell it, the B.B. are a sophisticated and violent organization, almost a terrorist group, with ties to the Nuestra Familia prison gang. Or it could be a figment of Reisig’s politically overheated imagination. As one friend who grew up in Broderick recently put it, “It’s complete bullshit.”

The injunction applies inside a 3-square-mile “safety zone” that roughly overlaps the working-class neighborhoods of Broderick and Bryte. And it gives West Sac police carte blanche to arrest alleged gang members—inside the safety zone—who are seen loitering, or violating curfew, or associating with other people identified by police as gang members.

The law gives police an awful lot of discretion in determining who’s a gang member and who’s not. Not surprisingly, a lot of people in Broderick and Bryte say Reisig is just codifying police harassment of young Latinos. And more than a few see it as a gentrification tool.

An earlier version of the law was struck down as unconstitutional because Reisig decided not to serve any of the alleged gang members with notice that he was seeking the injunction. Well, OK, he served one guy, who actually lived in Rancho Cordova at the time. Whoops.

This one is still problematic, the appeals court found, because it’s so broadly written that cops could come and arrest a supposed gang member whose only crime was eating in a restaurant where beer or wine is sold, or shopping in a store where prescription drugs are sold. Whoops. The court told Reisig he’d have to fix that, but upheld the bulk of the measure.

This is just a preliminary injunction. The district attorney still has to prove in court that a permanent injunction is warranted. Along the way, the courts will have to settle the question of whether the Broderick Boys gang really exists, and whether it’s the vast criminal enterprise that Reisig makes it out to be. Whether the people of Broderick and Bryte actually want Reisig’s help with their supposed gang problem, that’s a whole other question.

Compiled from Snog.