With a new twist on an old tactic, the Los Angeles city attorney's office has won a permanent injunction against the infamous 18th Street gang, barring members from recruiting young people.
"We need to find new ways to cut off membership," City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said. The injunction, which covers gang members in neighborhoods around Wilshire Boulevard in the mid-city area, was signed this week by Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz.
Gang injunctions, which officials have used against Los Angeles gangs 21 times since 1993, bar alleged gang members from engaging in a number of otherwise legal activities, including standing, walking, driving or associating with one another in public. The injunctions also add extra penalties when gang members engage in already illegal activities, such as painting graffiti, possessing drugs or drinking in public.
In recent months, Delgadillo's office has sought to add provisions to gang injunctions to further hobble the gangs, said spokesman Eric Moses.
In an injunction against the Rolling 60s gang in South Los Angeles, Delgadillo's office added a provision to prevent members from driving together into a rival gang's territory.
In the Nickerson Gardens housing project near Watts, city attorneys added a prohibition on playing dominoes or gambling in the parking lots, officials said.
Father Gregory Boyle, director of Homeboy Industries, which provides jobs to gang members in Boyle Heights, was skeptical of the prohibition against recruiting young people.
"That's an impossible thing to enforce, if anyone were to think it through," he said. "It's also not how people join gangs.... Nor do they set up a recruitment table at high schools and an announcement goes out: '18th Street is recruiting today.' "
City officials have struggled to come up with strategies to combat the 18th Street gang, which they say originated near 18th Street in the Pico Union neighborhood in the early 1960s and has spread throughout Los Angeles and beyond to Mexico and Central America.
In March, Delgadillo's office secured an injunction against the gang in the Hollywood area. Last August, his office won an injunction against the gang in the Rampart area.
An earlier injunction against the gang in that area was suspended in 1999, part of the fallout from the Rampart police scandal.