OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A lawyer for reputed Norteño gang members in Oakland’s Fruitvale District Wednesday turned the tables on city officials who are suing his clients by saying he wants an injunction against police officers who he alleges are harassing them.
Oakland City Attorney John Russo filed a lawsuit on Oct. 13 seeking an injunction that would bar 40 alleged Norteño members from hanging out with one another, loitering and possessing guns in a 450-square-block area in the largely Hispanic Fruitvale District. It also would impose a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., among other restrictions.
In the fourth day of testimony on the city’s injunction bid, attorney Dennis Cunningham, who represents several of the reputed gang members, questioned Oakland police Hispanic gang expert Officer Douglass Keely about the need for an injunction, but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman ruled that many of Cunningham’s questions were irrelevant or argumentative.
When Freedman asked Cunningham about the relevance of a particular line of questioning, Cunningham said, “It’s the same as we’ve said all along, which is that police harass them.”
“We need an injunction against the police,” he said.
Freedman reminded Cunningham that there is no injunction bid pending against the Oakland Police Department and told him to move to another line of questioning.
The proposed gang injunction is the second that has been sought by the city. Last June, Freedman issued an injunction against 15 members of the North Side Oakland gang.
Opponents claim an injunction against alleged Norteño members would result in racial profiling of young Latino men.
But Russo has said that the lawsuit has nothing to do with racial profiling and instead focuses on cracking down on gang members who he said have been committing crimes in the Fruitvale area.
Keely testified Wednesday that he thinks the injunction is needed because many residents of the Fruitvale neighborhood are afraid to leave their houses because of all the gang activity there.
Cunningham objected to some of Keely’s testimony, accusing the officer of spouting “propaganda” and relying on ESP, but Freedman said Cunningham had no basis for objecting to the testimony.
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