Commentary: Debate Continues Over the Gang Injunction in West Sacramento

Earlier in the week, we criticized West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon for his lack of leadership in the gang injunction case by failing to appear at a town meeting to discuss the subject.

The Woodland Daily Democrat reported Friday on an angry exchange at the West Sacramento City Council Meeting, where frustrated opponents of the gang injunction confronted the Mayor who is running for the State Assembly.

“Meanwhile, the opponents of the injunction pleaded their case to the West Sacramento City Council Wednesday night, taking particular aim at the city’s mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, who conspicuously missed Monday’s town hall meeting organized by the city’s residents regarding the injunction.

“There was an open letter to you, Mr. Cabaldon,” said Rebecca Sandoval of the local council of the League of United Latin American Citizens at the meeting. “I can’t believe you didn’t show up.”

Sandoval noted that the Monday town hall meeting was attended by representatives from state Sen. Mike Machado and Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, and personally attended by Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada, who is challenging Cabaldon for a state Assembly seat.

“Your opponent showed up, but where were you?” Sandoval asked.”

Furthermore:

“Cabaldon tried to assure the angry residents that the injunction was necessary to curb what he called a very dangerous and menacing street gang.

“The injunction will be limited specifically to those with recent and criminal histories,” Cabaldon said. “The injunction has been effective in reducing crime and violent crime particular in Broderick and Bryte, (and) to an extent greater than rest of the city.”

Cabaldon pointed the finger back at opponents, stating that their denial of the existence of the Broderick Boys gang has hampered the dialogue between them and the city.

“Part of the challenge to the conversation had been the fundamental contention that there is no such thing as the Broderick Boys,” Cabaldon said. “It does exist and it is a problem and neighborhoods have been under siege as a result of those criminal activities for far too long and we are taking action to ensure they don’t occur.”

Opponents left the meeting angered by the mayor’s pronouncement.

“The mayor is a liar and a fool,” said Ashiya Odeye, director of the Justice Reform Coalition, a Sacramento-based civil rights advocacy group, at the City Council meeting. “And he’s part of the problem.”

“All of that stuff he is talking about is a lie. I know he has further political aspirations, but I think his aspirations in politics are over because the community is tired. They have never proven there is a Broderick Boys gang period.”

The newly written injunction does in fact appear to have been much more specific than the previous injunction that was thrown out due to lack of notification and a spurious use of state law defining unincorporated associations.

However, there still appear to be problems with the current law. While last time, then Deputy District Attorney (now the newly elected DA) Jeff Reisig, noticed a single accused gang member, who no longer even resided in West Sacramento, this one had a much more broadly noticed target. However, because the injunction is a “civil injunction,” defendants are still not entitled to a court-appointed attorney–and therefore in practice, there may not be much difference in terms of those individuals, who are targeted for the injunction, ability to defend themselves against such charges by the District Attorney.

Now you have case where individuals will go to jail if they violate the law but are not being allowed representation because they cannot afford to pay a private attorney. A lot of these people are indigent and cannot afford counsel, so how are they going to be able to have their rights protected in this case?

So now there is an argument before Judge Fall as to whether they are entitled to court appointed counsel. Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden is arguing no and several attorney’s who wish to be appointed by the court as arguing that they are.

“They asked to be appointed as if this was a criminal case,” Linden said. “The fact that we are enjoining criminals does not mean they have the right to get their attorneys any differently.”

How difficult would it actually be to allow people to get proper representation here? What is the District Attorney’s office afraid of? If you believe that you have good solid reason to name these individuals, allow them to have counsel, it only seems right.

Since I have been following this story, people have argued that this is necessary to prevent horrific crime in West Sacramento. If that’s true, then what harm would it do to allow people to follow the due process of the law? I still believe that people ought to be punished for what they do criminally, not what they potentially might do criminally. And an injunction is a punishment, it denies people the right to do things that ordinary people have the right to do. If that’s the case, then people should have the right to an attorney, the right to due process of the law, but from the very start, this process has been bent on denying people those very basic of all rights, and it comes to the point where I have to ask, why?

This is primarily directed toward the inevitable ten people who will come on here and tell me how terrible the gang is and how horrible the people involved. My response to you is that by denying people their right to fight these accusations, you are turning these people that you consider criminals and thugs into at least partial victims. The only way you can regain your moral high ground is by granting them their rights to at least face their accuser and challenge the punishment. If they are guilty as you say they are, then what are you afraid?

The only reasonable answer I can come up with is that it is because they cannot prove anything, that they are imposing blanket punishments in a sense of panic, and when you do that you end up harming innocent people. The US Constitution does not provide exceptions to the first, fourth, and fifth amendments to street gangs. The US Constitution does not allow due process of the law for law abiding citizens, but deny it to people who are in gangs or more to the point suspected of being in a gang. You want to enjoin gang members, fine, prove in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is in fact a gang member and provide him counsel to defend himself. Then this all goes away. Until then, I see this as a ploy to deny people their right to due process because essentially there are a lot of really bad people out there, who do a lot of bad things to other people, and we’re scared. And if that is the standard, then we will eventually be able to reason away all of our rights and then where will be be?

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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136 comments

  1. Cabaldon is revealing himself to be a smooth-talking,well-financed politician whose campaign strategy is to avoid any leadership role here while “milking it” for all its worth in our current War-on-Terror political climate. I don’t think that we will ever know who we would really be getting with a Cabaldon vote for Assembly.

  2. Cabaldon is revealing himself to be a smooth-talking,well-financed politician whose campaign strategy is to avoid any leadership role here while “milking it” for all its worth in our current War-on-Terror political climate. I don’t think that we will ever know who we would really be getting with a Cabaldon vote for Assembly.

  3. Cabaldon is revealing himself to be a smooth-talking,well-financed politician whose campaign strategy is to avoid any leadership role here while “milking it” for all its worth in our current War-on-Terror political climate. I don’t think that we will ever know who we would really be getting with a Cabaldon vote for Assembly.

  4. Cabaldon is revealing himself to be a smooth-talking,well-financed politician whose campaign strategy is to avoid any leadership role here while “milking it” for all its worth in our current War-on-Terror political climate. I don’t think that we will ever know who we would really be getting with a Cabaldon vote for Assembly.

  5. DPD said:

    “you are turning these people that you consider criminals and thugs into at least partial victims. “

    If one of the new Cabaldon-imposed rules is that you have to have a criminal record, then the DA isn’t just “considering” them criminals, the legal system has already FOUND them to be criminals. Big difference.

    In fact, the bulk of the legitimate ACLU-type arguments against the injunction go floating away when the net is cast so narrowly that it only impacts convicted criminals that, by another part of the injunction, exibit FOUR of the known markers for gang activity.

    This isn’t Guantanamo, or a part of the War On Terror. It is only a way to stop convicted criminals who are proven to be associating with gangs.

    Also very telling that the person in the article who calls Cabaldon a liar and a fool is actually saying that the Broderick Boys don’t exist!! That is laughable!! (What’s the first rule of Fight Club?)

  6. DPD said:

    “you are turning these people that you consider criminals and thugs into at least partial victims. “

    If one of the new Cabaldon-imposed rules is that you have to have a criminal record, then the DA isn’t just “considering” them criminals, the legal system has already FOUND them to be criminals. Big difference.

    In fact, the bulk of the legitimate ACLU-type arguments against the injunction go floating away when the net is cast so narrowly that it only impacts convicted criminals that, by another part of the injunction, exibit FOUR of the known markers for gang activity.

    This isn’t Guantanamo, or a part of the War On Terror. It is only a way to stop convicted criminals who are proven to be associating with gangs.

    Also very telling that the person in the article who calls Cabaldon a liar and a fool is actually saying that the Broderick Boys don’t exist!! That is laughable!! (What’s the first rule of Fight Club?)

  7. DPD said:

    “you are turning these people that you consider criminals and thugs into at least partial victims. “

    If one of the new Cabaldon-imposed rules is that you have to have a criminal record, then the DA isn’t just “considering” them criminals, the legal system has already FOUND them to be criminals. Big difference.

    In fact, the bulk of the legitimate ACLU-type arguments against the injunction go floating away when the net is cast so narrowly that it only impacts convicted criminals that, by another part of the injunction, exibit FOUR of the known markers for gang activity.

    This isn’t Guantanamo, or a part of the War On Terror. It is only a way to stop convicted criminals who are proven to be associating with gangs.

    Also very telling that the person in the article who calls Cabaldon a liar and a fool is actually saying that the Broderick Boys don’t exist!! That is laughable!! (What’s the first rule of Fight Club?)

  8. DPD said:

    “you are turning these people that you consider criminals and thugs into at least partial victims. “

    If one of the new Cabaldon-imposed rules is that you have to have a criminal record, then the DA isn’t just “considering” them criminals, the legal system has already FOUND them to be criminals. Big difference.

    In fact, the bulk of the legitimate ACLU-type arguments against the injunction go floating away when the net is cast so narrowly that it only impacts convicted criminals that, by another part of the injunction, exibit FOUR of the known markers for gang activity.

    This isn’t Guantanamo, or a part of the War On Terror. It is only a way to stop convicted criminals who are proven to be associating with gangs.

    Also very telling that the person in the article who calls Cabaldon a liar and a fool is actually saying that the Broderick Boys don’t exist!! That is laughable!! (What’s the first rule of Fight Club?)

  9. “The injunction will be limited specifically to those with recent and criminal histories,” Cabaldon said.

    Does “criminal histories” mean a conviction by a court or just a police opinion? If convicted “recently”, I would imagine that they would already be on some form of restriction to their free association with criminals(e.g. parole).

  10. “The injunction will be limited specifically to those with recent and criminal histories,” Cabaldon said.

    Does “criminal histories” mean a conviction by a court or just a police opinion? If convicted “recently”, I would imagine that they would already be on some form of restriction to their free association with criminals(e.g. parole).

  11. “The injunction will be limited specifically to those with recent and criminal histories,” Cabaldon said.

    Does “criminal histories” mean a conviction by a court or just a police opinion? If convicted “recently”, I would imagine that they would already be on some form of restriction to their free association with criminals(e.g. parole).