Opinion: Gang injunction? Not if you’re an affluent surf thug in Palos Verdes
When a group of thugs terrorizes a Los Angeles neighborhood — intimidating outsiders, vandalizing property, assaulting innocent people — authorities have been quick to respond with gang injunctions that target the individual members and criminalize the very act of hanging out together.
Well, quick in some communities. Think Northeast Los Angeles and South L.A., Boyle Heights, Inglewood, Long Beach. In other words, working-class neighborhoods with majority black or Latino residents.
What happens when those gangsters are middle-class, middle-aged men from an overwhelmingly white, affluent community? Apparently nothing.
The Bay Boys even have a sort-of clubhouse, an unpermitted structure built on the beach where gang members can hang out and survey the domain they maintain though fear and force.
Maybe that’s because it has been allowed to go on for so long, with only perfunctory attempts by local law enforcement to crack down on reported crimes. It might still be ignored were not for videos posted by the Guardian last year of the Bay Boys intimidating a visitor and a police dispatcher essentially dismissing the thugs and the situation as “it is what it is.”
What it is is criminal behavior that probably would not be tolerated in many other places. Since the videos raised the issue again, the police chief of Palos Verdes Estates vowed to crack down on the Bay Boys, and the Coastal Commission jumped in, saying the obstructions constituted development on the coast making it subject to commission regulation.
And why not? These may not be the Echo Park Locos, but they sure sound like a bunch of gangsters as other law enforcement agencies define them. Here’s how LAPD explains gang injunctions:
“A gang injunction is a restraining order against a group. It is a civil suit that seeks a court order declaring the gang’s public behavior a nuisance and asking for special rules directed toward its activity. Injunctions can address the neighborhood’s gang problem before it reaches the level of felony crime activity.”
That sounds about right.
Author’s note: An earlier version of this post inadvertently referred, unironically, to the Bay Boys as the Bad Boys.
Follow me @marielgarzaLAT
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