Chicanos Unidos Success: Spitzer makes Gang-Injunction Removal Easier!


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Well, this was done quietly sometime in the last couple months, but it is pretty much what Chicanos Unidos were demanding in our meetings with District Attorney Todd Spitzer, so we thank him and his staff.  And it was accompanied by no fanfare or press release, so consider THIS the press release:

Process for Removal from Gang Injunction Now Accessible on DA Website!

(click above for more info)

I’d written a piece back in May (and then re-posted it in July) entitled “What’s a Poor Law-abiding Person Gotta Do to Get Their Name Off a GANG INJUNCTION in this County?”   That piece described how severely GI’s impact the lives and liberties of the folks “enjoined” by them, many of whom should not be (or should never have been) enjoined by them.  It described how difficult it was, even a few months ago, for Orange County people to navigate the system to have themselves removed.  It mentioned how far behind San Diego and LA counties the OC was in that regard.  Knowing you could click and read that piece if you wanted to, I won’t belabor any of those points here.

In any case, following a couple of productive meetings between Spitzer’s staff and Chicanos Unidos, Todd has kept his word and updated his website with a nice accessible link to get your removal process started

The questions you will be asked in your petition for removal are:

  • Have you been convicted of any crimes since the date of your inclusion in the gang injunction – excluding minor traffic violations?: YES/NO
  • Have you engaged in any activity demonstrating continued loyalty to, association with, or membership in a criminal street gang in the past 5  years?: YES/NO
  • Please explain what makes you suitable for removal based on change in circumstances and interests of justice. How is the injunction causing/impeding your progress toward a productive law abiding life? Aside from the above criteria, please also include names and contact information for teachers, counselors or employers who can vouch for your current lifestyle. Please also include any information you wish to be considered in this petition for removal. Attach additional pages if necessary. 

Chicanos Unidos’ free Legal Clinic is currently assisting folks who want to be removed with preparing their petitions … that is, at least until we become overwhelmed!

Two other notes:

One sentence on the DA’s gang injunction page made me do a double-take:  “In fact, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has already successfully petitioned to remove more than 500 individuals.”  500?  When did this happen?  They did this on their own, with no push?  What were the reasons 500 people were automatically removed? 

Turns out this happened back in 2017, as the result of a lawsuit, during the Rackauckas days, and they were removed because they “were not appropriately served, or did not have an opportunity in court to challenge their inclusion.”  So no, as far as we know, Todd’s office is not conducting audits to clear wrongly enjoined people, as some other DA’s are doing.

Also, in an otherwise productive September meeting, Todd told us something we thought was naive – perhaps LITERALLY true, but either naive or disingenuous:  “Gang Injunctions are NOT against communities, but against individuals.” 

Those of us who live in one of OC’s sixteen gang-injunction “safety zones,” even ones like Anna Drive which have seen a marked decrease in crime and gang activity in recent years, know many innocent young (mostly) men who are routinely harassed by police just because of where they live, even though they’re not named on the injunctions.  And if, God forbid, one of them gets wrongfully killed by a cop, one of the police’s first lines of defense will be, “Well, he was in a gang injunction safety zone, so the officer feared for his life.”  So NO, in real life, the gang injunction affects the entire COMMUNITY, Todd.

So we remain opposed to Gang Injunctions in general.  But this new process for removing oneself is progress, and wouldn’t have been promulgated by Tony Rackauckas, the draconian author of all 16 of ’em.  So thanks, Todd!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.