Oxnard’s Civil Gang Injunction

 

 

By Armando Vazquez   

Courts through California have confirmed what we knew back in 2004 that the original language of the many Civil “Gang” Injunctions were recklessly created together and were fatally flawed and unconstutional. They uniformly trampled on the due process rights of the enjoined. Today many California counties and municipalities are conceding to the recent courts decisions and have effectively terminated all Civil “Gang” Injunctions enforcement and have scraped the draconian policy. Not Ventura County and the duplicitous city of Oxnard. The entire California history of Civil “Gang” Injunctions has always been covert, hypocritical and unconstitutional political opportunism mascaraing as effective community policing.

The Ventura County District Attorney and the Oxnard Police Department finally plucked the ridiculously “low hanging poisonous fruit” by “successfully”  servicing a mere 6 future/potential targeted youth or adults with court approved initial Oxnard Civil “Gang” Injunction(OCGI) documents. On Friday, August 9, 2019, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Killebrew’s approval of the “new and improved legal OCGI servicing provides the green light to the Ventura County District Attorney and the Oxnard Police Department to proceed with future enforcement of the Oxnard “Gang” Civil Injunction (OCGI) orders. So throughout Oxnard where does the soon to be targeted/effected youth and adults, CORE and other concerned activist go from here? Here are my thoughts.   Ventura County, with the city of Oxnard as its unrepentant duped accomplice, refuses to walk away from the unconstitutional OCGI enforcement policies. The question is why?

In the past, I have been reluctant to attach the majority, indeed, all the blame for this unconstitutional OCGI policing scourge on the Oxnard City Council (past and present), but the time has come to call them out for what they are, hypocritical political opportunists. Every politician shamelessly knows that tough on crime posturing is a winning electoral ticket, especially in Oxnard. By continuing to support the OCGI all of the current Oxnard city council members are complicit in peddling/stoking community fear and simultaneously pushing an unconstitutional police tactic.

Many of our activist comrades have argued that we should mount a local campaign to oust Greg Totten, the current District Attorney of Ventura County. After all, they argue, he is the county law enforcement official that has the ultimate say on the OCGI. They further argue that we should mount a political campaign that looks to defeat Totten in 2022 when he is up for re-election. I do not agree with this political strategy. Totten is arguable the most popular politico in Ventura County precisely because he shamelessly panders expertly to the fears and prejudices of the voting white middle class that elected him in the first place. For now Totten is only second to Trump in popularity with this frightened and ultra conservative white middle class electorate.

Going after Totten plays directly into the hands of the know nothing, do nothing Oxnard City Council. They will have dodged a political quandary that they want no part of and will avoid at all cost, even if it means turning a blind eye to the unconstitutional practices of the police forces that they were elected to supervise and control.

Pigs will fly before anyone of the Oxnard city council members will seriously take on OPD Chief Scott Whitney and his department on the issue of abolishing the OCGI. So again it is up to the affected and activist community of Oxnard to begin to put unrelenting and strategic pressure on each and every one of the city council members to abolish the unconstitutional OCGI, more free passes! Remember if the city council directs Chief Whitney to immediately stop all OCGI enforcement, it dies an un-ceremonial death on the spot! The community of Oxnard does not have to go after Totten. He will have an unconstitutional policy with no teeth and no class of Oxnard resident to profile and harass without the active enforcement of OPD and the Oxnard city council.

Here are some of my thoughts on how we can defeat the OCGI going forward!

  1. Many times I have heard Oxnard city council members utter the incredulous line, “there just isn’t enough information on the whole Civil ”Gang” Injunction issue for me to make an informed decision” While completely disingenuous, this excuse can be easily remedied by having community members schedule individual appointments with each of the seven (7) current city council members and spoon feed the history and the relevant court finds and decisions that render the Oxnard Civil “Gang” Injunction unconstitutional. A dear friend used to remind me,cover up all the rat holes when dealing with politicians.
  2. Re-energize and organize community activists and organizations like CORE, Todo Poder al Pueblo, Black & Brown Youth Alliance, the KEYS Leadership Academy and others so that the affected communities are informed, represented and active in their own self-determination and liberation movements, using the current OCGI fight as potential starting point.
  3. Agitate, demand, and organize to secure a free and neutral community space(S) in Oxnard. Various companeras(os) have reminded me that  much of the progressive social justice organizing, mobilizing and strategizing that was done in the past 25 years in Oxnard was conducted in liberated and neutral community spaces like the Café on A. The progressive and activist community of Oxnard does not currently have that kind of revolutionary community space. We must secure it.
  4. Continue to attend each of the future OCGI Superior Court hearings so that the local politicos, the DA, the OPD can see for themselves that the community of Oxnard will continue to fight and oppose any and all racist, discriminatory, and unconstitutional law enforcement policies. The next OCGI Superior Court hearings is tentatively scheduled for Monday, September 23, 2019.


Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.  is Executive Director of  Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition

 

 

 


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


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