Crime & Justice

Judge denies residents' motion to intervene in Echo Park gang injunction

Protesters voice their opposition to an Echo Park gang injunction on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.
Protesters voice their opposition to an Echo Park gang injunction on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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A Los Angeles judge has denied a request from community members to join a civil case that would have challenged the city of Los Angeles’s gang injunction in Echo Park.

Sixteen people filed motions to intervene in the gang injunction case presented last year by the city of Los Angeles. The city was granted permission in September to enforce the civil order — also known as the gang injunction — that prohibits two listed gang members from hanging out together in public within the 3.8-square-mile “safety zone.”

The safety zone covers Echo Park and part of the Silver Lake neighborhood. The injunction applies to six rival gangs in these areas. The city and the L.A. Police Department have listed about 300 people as known members of these gangs.

Judge Abraham Khan had tentatively ruled in favor of the city back in November. He said that the interveners had filed their motions too late, after he’d granted the city the injunction.

But Khan said he would wait to finalize his ruling until a federal appeals case involving an Orange County gang injunction was resolved. The appeals court ruled that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office violated people’s right to due process when they weren’t allowed to contest their alleged gang member status.

“The recently cited Ninth Circuit case is very different,” wrote Khan in his Feb. 3 opinion. “The order in this case has differing exceptions and procedures for anyone to avoid application of the injunction to them."

Khan added that he didn’t believe the federal appeals court ruling binds decisions in California courts.

“Here, the Court expresses its expectation that Los Angeles authorities will implement the injunction only lawfully and fairly,” he wrote.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office has not served anyone with the gang injunction yet. City Attorney Mike Feuer said they wanted to wait until the judge made a final decision on the case.

Attorney Kurt Bier, representing those seeking an intervention, said he’s not sure if they will appeal the ruling.