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Judge Delays Ruling on Oxnard Gang Injunction

May 25, 2004|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Calling it a delicate task of balancing public safety with individual rights, a Ventura County judge on Monday delayed ruling on an injunction that would bar Oxnard's Colonia Chiques street gang from congregating in public.

After hearing from attorneys on both sides, Superior Court Judge Fred H. Bysshe took the case under submission and said that he would issue a ruling June 1.

Prosecutors and police are seeking the injunction to gain more leverage in cracking down on what authorities say is the largest and most violent gang in the county, one responsible for dozens of homicides.

If granted, the injunction would establish a 6.6-mile "safety zone" blanketing roughly half the city of Oxnard.

Gang members would be barred from engaging in numerous activities within the area, from flashing gang signs to wearing Dallas Cowboys attire to staying out past 10 p.m.

Violators would face misdemeanor charges.

During Monday's hearing, Bysshe said police needed more help in keeping a lid on gang violence.

"It is my concern that law enforcement may need additional tools to attempt to ... suppress gang activity so that innocent citizens can live in a free and secure environment," Bysshe said.

But if granted, the judge said, the injunction would be retooled to better define to whom it would apply -- a major concern of defense attorneys and civil rights leaders.

Equally important to suppressing gang violence, Bysshe said, was that people who reside within the safety zone feel "they are not going to be unreasonably harassed or annoyed."

Times staff writer Fred Alvarez contributed to this report.

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