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Injunction Issued Against 2 Gangs in Harbor City

Court: Temporary restriction on members associating in public is the first sought since Rampart scandal broke.

January 13, 2000|ROBERT J. LOPEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Superior Court judge Wednesday approved a preliminary injunction against two street gangs accused of terrorizing and intimidating residents in the Harbor City area.

Under the temporary order approved by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James L. Wright in Long Beach, 32 alleged members of the Harbor City Crips and another Harbor City gang are barred from associating in public with their reputed cohorts. The accused gangsters also are enjoined from acting as lookouts during drug-related activities.

The injunction--which targets an area of about half a square mile near the Harbor Freeway--must be permanently approved at a court hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

The Harbor City injunction is the first sought by the city since a growing corruption scandal exploded several months ago in the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division.

Two highly touted injunctions in Rampart have been put on hold while authorities probe allegations that anti-gang officers there illegally shot suspects, framed one man, improperly beat another, stole drugs, falsified evidence and covered up a wide range of misconduct.

On Wednesday, city attorneys overseeing the Harbor City injunction said they do not anticipate problems because they accumulated an overwhelming amount of evidence from various sources, including photographs and court records.

"We tried to overkill the evidence," said Deputy City Atty. James McDougal.

Nine of the alleged gang members appeared in court but offered no objections. Because it is a civil proceeding, the accused are not entitled to public defenders.

In announcing the filing of the Harbor City injunction in November, City Atty. James K. Hahn accused gang members of turning the working-class area near the Port of Los Angeles into a "24-hour-a-day drug-dealing hell."

Hahn, the first candidate to announce he is running for mayor in 2001, has said he plans to use his tough anti-gang stance as a cornerstone of his campaign. He has insisted the injunctions are not motivated by political considerations.

Gang violence citywide--including the Harbor City area--has decreased dramatically in recent years. Although the effectiveness of injunctions has been questioned, prosecutors say the court orders provide an additional tool for combating gang crime.

The injunctions were pioneered by Hahn's office nearly a decade ago. In all, eight are being enforced citywide, including in Harbor City, which is the first to target two gangs at the same time.

Since the accused gang members were served with court papers in November, prosecutors say, residents have reported that gang activity has dropped noticeably.

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