Excessive Force?

By Tommy A. Purvis

Posted July 25, 2013 in News

(WEB)newsAnti-Gang Efforts in Rancho Cucamonga are “completely unnecessary”

More jail time might be on the docket for those found guilty of far reaching injunctions and felony enhancement crimes, if the conclusion found in the “Gangs” section of the annual San Bernardino Grand Jury report is enacted.

The politically selected group of 19 persons mandated to investigate and report on both criminal and civil matters within the county delivered their findings to San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Marsha J. Slough on June 28. The Law and Justice Committee—a nine-person panel of mostly white older males—found the need to review the Countywide Strategic Plan on Gangs from ’05. The effort is in order “to determine the extent to which agencies have implemented the recommendations and impact the plan has had on suppressing street gang activity and reducing gang membership.”

The five-page section of the Grand Jury report alleges the success of the DA’s Cucamonga King’s Civil Gang Injunction (CGI) amended in the San Bernardino Superior Court in April of last year. The permanent injunction prohibits alleged gang members from committing a long list of misdemeanor city ordinance violations in the North Town Safety Zone—a nearly mile-wide rectangle in Rancho Cucamonga with Arrow Route to the north, Acacia to the south and Archibald and Haven, as the west to east boundaries—enforces strict curfews, and regulates other tough enforcement mechanisms, under the threat of a six-month jail sentence.

“The Cucamonga King gang injunction is based on stereotypes, hate speech and generalizations of a community that has historically been marginalized,” North Town Activist Gina Mirelez told the Weekly. “North Town was already far safer than it was in the ’80s and ’90s. This injunction was completely unnecessary.”

Mirelez told the Weekly that she had the chance to meet with several of the 45-families named in the injunction. Four of them—Albert Padilla, Jacob Padilla, Joseph Andre and Jonathan Martinez—signed written declaration denying being members of the gang. Martinez also alleges that a deputy falsified police reports after he was left with a fractured jaw, three broken ribs and a concussion in July 2010 during an alleged beatdown from several deputies in North Town.

Statistics from the San Bernardino County Movement Against Street Hoodlums (SMASH)—a Sheriff Department gang task force that combines local police forces with deputies—in the report Grand Jury report claim that as of last year there were 712 gangs countywide, with 15,900 alleged gang members or terrorists as the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office often refers to the increasingly marginalized demographic in most gang-related press releases.

“It’s important not to lose sight of the brave actions of our local law enforcement officers who battle these local terrorists every day,” District Attorney Michael Ramos told the Weekly via such a press release to highlight the most recent Gang Program numbers in the third quarter of last year. “Because of their hard work and that of our dedicated gang attorneys who work tirelessly to ensure justice is carried out, we are able to disrupt the criminal actions of several gangs in San Bernardino County.

The Grand Jury back in ’05 was able to account for $4.8 million directed towards the Law and Justice Group—a collaboration of the San Bernardino County Sheriff, the DA, Probation, Public Defender and Superior Court—to develop the initial battle of the on going war on gangs.

Since then, the DA has filed 7,673 gang cases that has resulted in 32,000 years of state prison sentences, along with another 153 life-term convictions. Two death penalty cases have also been successfully prosecuted.

Deputy DA Mike Voss told the Weekly that Arthur Rodriguez was arrested in the North Town Safety Zone for felony probation violation since Superior Court Judge Joseph Briscoe signed the permanent injunction on April 30 of last year. There has also been nine convictions of King gang members for injunction violations—including Jerry Hernandez who had been violating the injunction by talking with Rodriguez in the Safety Zone outside of church or work—that will typically result in 30-day stint at West Valley Detention Center.

Mirelez told the Weekly that some in the the community feel the injunction gives even more power to law enforcement to harass and profile brown-skinned residents.

“SMASH is the biggest gang in North Town,” Mirelez tells the Weekly.


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