Los Angeles city officials announced the filing of a nuisance complaint Thursday seeking an injunction against the Rolling Sixties Crips street gang in the Hyde Park area, the 17th such injunction in the city and the third against a mostly black gang.
The complaint requests a court order restricting the activities of 31 alleged members of what City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo calls one of the city’s deadliest gangs. He seeks to bar those named in the document from carrying pagers or cell phones, wearing gang attire, gathering in public and engaging in other activities deemed to help create a nuisance.
Such injunctions represent an old strategy for combating gang crime in Los Angeles. For more than a decade, city attorneys have marshaled evidence for neighborhood nuisance cases to restrict the activities and movements of gang members.
The injunctions have been criticized as impinging on civil rights, because they restrict activities -- such as gathering in public -- that are otherwise legal. And some law enforcement officials have questioned the court orders’ effectiveness.
But officials in the city attorney’s office contend that the legal tactic is linked to lower crime rates and say courts have upheld its constitutionality.
Delgadillo said the latest injunction would help to “stamp out the reign of terror” that gang members have imposed on Hyde Park, which borders the northeastern part of Inglewood.
The news of the complaint was welcomed by Burke “Speedy” Robinson, 36, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority supervisor and longtime resident of the area. He happened to stroll by the news conference Thursday morning at the Van Ness Recreation Center on Slauson Avenue as Delgadillo prepared to make his announcement.
“It will do some good,” Robinson said of the injunction. “We need to get those people off the streets. This is a start.”
But another passerby, 19-year-old Cal State Dominguez Hills student Jamaar Simon, was more skeptical.
The injunction might be of some help in preventing shootings, he said, but at the same time he is concerned that such measures encourage police to harass innocent young black men.
Simon, who works for a marketing company, said he has had many run-ins with police simply because he fits that demographic. The Sixties are “a big, black gang. But I’m black too, and I’m already getting harassed and I’m doing everything right,” he said.
Another onlooker, Antoien Crayon, 33, who uses a wheelchair because of injuries suffered in a shooting, agreed. “Just raiding all over won’t do nothing,” he said. “They need to make sure they get who they want.”
Community objections are one reason it took so long to file the complaint against the Rolling Sixties, despite the fact that police believe it to be one of the city’s largest and most notoriously violent street gangs, said Councilman Bernard C. Parks.
This would be the first injunction in the LAPD’s 77th Street Division, even though the division’s territory is almost always among the top three in homicides citywide.
But local attitudes have shifted, Parks said.
Civil rights advocate Najee Ali, national director of Project Islamic HOPE who spoke at the news conference, said he once opposed injunctions but has changed his mind.
“I have never supported injunctions,” Ali said. “But I have to think of the civil rights of the men, women and children who have been slaughtered.”
Among those named in the complaint is Grant Lyons, 39, who identified himself as a Rolling Sixties Crip and said he plans to fight the restrictions in court as a violation of his civil rights.
He said he has committed no serious crimes since 1985 and is not a threat.
“I drink a lot,” he said. “I’m just there.”
Police cite him often for violations of open-container laws but have not accused him of anything more serious, he said. Meanwhile, “this neighborhood gets a whole bunch of murder and shooting cases, and don’t they ever think someone else is doing the shooting?”