Injunction marks shift in Santa Barbara's gang fight
SANTA BARBARA — A controversial gang injunction complaint filed with the Santa Barbara Superior Court was made public Wednesday with the release of the names of 30 known Westside and Eastside gang members upon whom the injunction is imposed.
Named as plaintiffs on the complaint, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Santa Barbara City Attorney Steve Wiley are calling for specific restrictions on the behaviors and movements of those individually named in the complaint, including not associating with other gang members; not carrying weapons of any kind; no selling, use or transport of controlled substances; no drinking or possession of open containers of alcohol; no obstruction of traffic; no wearing of gang attire in public; no use of gang gestures; and no patronizing city parks or public school grounds.
The complaint, modeled after the Lompoc Gang Injunction devised by Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown when he was that city’s police chief, marks a sea change in official attitudes of the previous year. Both Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and police Chief Cam Sanchez had long expressed skepticism over filing an injunction, fearing public backlash over issues of profiling and civil rights violations. For his part, Sanchez had long favored community outreach programs and the ongoing development of youth programs in an effort to curb the city’s growing gang violence.
But under the pressure of increased criminal gang activity and several recent high-profile homicides involving conflicts between Eastside and Westside gangs, the decision was made by Dudley and Wiley to proceed with the superior court filing, which describes a wide swath of Santa Barbara as “safety zones” and alleges that “defendants threaten, intimidate, carry weapons, confront, assault and rob individuals, and claim public property as their “turf.”
The complaint further indicates that criminal prosecutions have had little effect in preventing gang activities.
“Traditional law enforcement methods have not eliminated the immediate and continual risk to the lives and property of the people who live, work, visit, and pass through the proposed safety zones,” the injunction reads.
Among those individuals cited by name in the complaint, five were arrested in 2008’s Operation Gator Roll, a countywide crackdown that produced 59 arrests. Others named in the complaint include accused murderers Michael “Psycho Mike” Cardenas, Miguel “Tripps” Parra and Bryan “Sneak E” Carreno, as well as recently convicted murderer Ruben “Gangster Loco” Mize.
At the March 15 press conference presaging the release of the complaint documents, Chief Sanchez struck a more supportive tone than he has in the past.
“We believe this will be an effective tool for the police department,” he said.
Mayor Schneider also revised her earlier position on the matter.
“You can think of it as a restraining order on certain areas with thirty individuals as opposed to blanketing of certain neighborhoods with certain parts of the community,” she told the press.