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Historic Victories Against Unconstitutional LAPD Gang Injunctions

Anne Richardson and Cindy Panuco of HSRR joined Olu Orange of Orange Law Offices Tuesday to give a press conference announcing developments in the case of Rodriguez v. City of Los Angeles, et al. Rulings granting a motion for class certification and a motion for a preliminary injunction were issued last Friday, February 15, 2013.

The preliminary injunction, issued by Judge Dolly M. Gee, prohibits the Los Angeles Police Department from enforcing unconstitutional curfews contained in twenty-six of the City of Los Angeles' forty-four gang injunctions. It also requires LAPD to notify the thousands of individuals previously served with injunctions that the unconstitutional provisions will not be enforced.

The provisions in question had prevented affected individuals from:

"Being outside between the hours of 10:00 p.m. on any day and sunrise of the following day, unless (1) going to/from a legitimate meeting or entertainment activity, or (2) actively engaged in some business, trade, profession or occupation which requires such presence, or (3) involved in a legitimate emergency situation that requires immediate attention."

A court of appeals ruling in 2007 had ruled that such a provision was unconstitutionally vague, because it prohibited constitutionally protected conduct such as sitting outside on one's own property. However, in 2009 Christian Rodriguez and Alberto Cazarez were both arrested breaking the curfew. That led them to bring the case against the LAPD. Anne Richardson, an attorney helping represent the two, explained, "the LAPD uses these injunctions to criminalize being black or brown and living in a low-income neighborhood. Once someone gets on the LAPD's internal gang injunction list, it is almost impossible to get off."

Last Friday's federal court injunction is a big step in correcting such unfair and oppressive practices.

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