Dual Complaints Begin Process to Enjoin Eddy Rock, Chopper City, Knock Out Posse & Norteño Gangs from Criminal, Nuisance Conduct
SAN FRANCISCO (June 21, 2007) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed suit against four criminal street gangs that have plagued two of San Francisco’s most violence-prone neighborhoods, naming the Western Addition-based Eddy Rock, Chopper City and Knock Out Posse gangs and the Mission-based Norteño gang in dual civil complaints filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning. The filings begin a process in which Herrera will seek court orders to legally enjoin documented gang members from engaging in such gang-related nuisance conduct as loitering, trespassing, intimidation, graffiti vandalism, gang recruitment or retention tactics, displaying gang signs or symbols, or associating with other gang members under most circumstances within “safety zones” intended to comport with known turf areas. The proposed injunctions would additionally prohibit gang members from possessing drugs, graffiti implements, guns and other dangerous weapons within the proposed zones. Violations of such injunctions can be pursued civilly by the City Attorney, for monetary penalties and up to five days in county jail for each violation, or prosecuted criminally by the District Attorney, as a misdemeanor for up to six months in county jail.
“San Francisco is witnessing an explosion in gang violence, and our neighborhoods are caught in the crossfire,” Herrera said. “Civil gang injunctions have proven to be a powerful tool to target and disrupt gang activity effectively and early, before it reaches the level of felony crime. We recognize they’re not a panacea for all violent crime. But civil injunctions bring a potent new weapon to the efforts of police and prosecutors to stem the tide of gang-related violence — and, as we saw with our first injunction against the Oakdale Mob, they work.”
In November 2006, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch granted Herrera’s motion for San Francisco’s first-ever civil gang injunction against the Oakdale Mob, a violent street gang that had threatened the safety of residents in areas of the Bayview/Hunter’s Point district for more than a decade. That preliminary injunction was subsequently made permanent by San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Susan Kaplan in March 2007. To date, the Oakdale Mob injunction has been widely praised for its effectiveness in significantly reducing gang-related violence and nuisance activity within the court ordered safety zone around the Oakdale housing development. “The success of our first gang injunction stems from an unprecedented level of coordination for a common objective among San Francisco’s law enforcement, prosecutors and policy-makers,” Herrera continued. “I am enormously thankful to the Gang Task Force of the San Francisco Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Heather Fong, for their efforts to help put these complex cases together and enforce the injunctions. Sheriff Michael Hennessey and his department have been instrumental in enabling us to meet the court’s high standards to notice and serve identified gang members. District Attorney Kamala Harris and her team of prosecutors have brought unmatched expertise, professionalism and commitment to bear in enforcing these injunctions criminally. And I am also very grateful to Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano, for their leadership and tireless efforts in working with all of us to help protect the neighborhoods they represent.” The proposed injunction against Western Addition-based Eddy Rock, Chopper City and Knock Out Posse targets gangs that are suspected by police of involvement in a particularly violent outbreak of recent shootings. Since May 18, neighborhood violence there has left a dozen injured and one dead. Herrera’s complaint alleges “illegal drug sales, homicides, robberies, burglaries, shootings, assaults, loitering in public places in a menacing manner to instill fear and discourage crime reporting, and graffiti” by all three gangs. The proposed safety zone for the Chopper City and Knock Out Posse gangs consists of a six-block area north of Turk Street to Ellis Street, between Divisadero and Steiner Streets. Two blocks east lies the proposed safety zone for the Eddy Rock gang, a roughly four-block area that also lies north of Turk Street to Ellis Street, and is bordered to the west by Webster Street and to the east by Gough Street. The Mission-based Norteño gang, which is described in Herrera’s complaint as “a nationally recognized violent criminal street gang with a substantial presence in Northern California and San Francisco,” allegedly lays claim to some 300 active members within the City and a significant portion of the southeastern Mission District as its turf. Norteños’ criminal activities are believed to include homicides, drug sales, assaults, robberies, shootings, stabbings, and graffiti. Police records indicate there have been approximately 18 homicides since 2004 in which Norteños have been involved or suspected in and around the gang’s turf — the most recent occurring last weekend, when a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed while standing at 24th and Harrison Streets. Herrera’s proposed safety zone covers an area north of Cesar Chavez Street, between Valencia Street and Potrero Avenue. Police estimate there have been some 59 assaults — 55 of them involving weapons — in which Norteños have either been involved or suspected within the proposed zone since 2005. The cases are: People of the State of California v. Chopper City, Eddy Rock and Knock Out Posse, San Francisco County Superior Court No. 07-464495, filed June 21, 2007; and People of the State of California v. Norteño, San Francisco County Superior Court No. 07-464492, filed June 21, 2007.