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Court Blocks LAPD From Enforcing Gang Injunction Against Echo Park Man

Echo Park. (Photo by throgers via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A judge with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a preliminary ruling Thursday saying that the LAPD cannot enforce gang injunction restrictions against 22-year-old Peter Arellano of Echo Park. The ruling is part of a federal lawsuit brought on by the ACLU of Southern California in October of last year, which argued it is unconstitutional to serve gang injunctions to people who haven't had the chance to challenge the injunctions in court.

The Echo Park gang injunction was put in place in 2013, and Arellano was served with the injunction in 2015. The injunction renders many otherwise lawful activities illegal, including associating with any suspected or known gang members, carrying objects that could be used for graffiti (including felt-tip markers), or possessing a firearm. Arellano was placed under the injunction "without a hearing or any other formal chance to refute the accusation he was in a gang," according to the ACLU of Southern California.

"I feel like I am under house arrest, always worried that I will get arrested for violating one of the terms of the injunction," Arellano told the court, according to City News Service. He also said the LAPD has stopped him countless times since the age of 10 under assumption of his involvement with Echo Park gang Big Top Locos, with which he denies affiliation.

The suit is part of a proposed class action suit representing 10,000 Los Angeles citizens, most of whom are men of color. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who issued today's ruling, has set a hearing for December 5 to determine whether the preliminary ruling will be upheld permanently.

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L.A. has been using injunctions since the late 1980s, according to the L.A. Times, and they affect 79 gangs in the Los Angeles area. The lawsuits don't address whether the injunctions are effective in curtailing gang activity; rather, they address the way the city obtains them and their effects on people unassociated with gangs.

The LAPD has declined to comment on the matter to LAist.