The city of Los Angeles has been barred from enforcing existing gang injunctions. In a 22-page order issued Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union is likely to prove that most of those subject to the injunctions suffered a due process violation, since the city did not give them an opportunity to challenge the civil restraining orders in court.
The order is believed to mark the first time a judge has blocked Los Angeles officials from enforcing the injunctions, which were born from a time in the late 1980s and '90s when gang activity in the city gained national attention. Their use has been credited by law enforcement with helping reduce gang-related crime, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The city's use of injunctions has been under increasing scrutiny since 2016, when the ACLU and the Los Angeles Youth Justice Coalition filed a lawsuit against the city.
Since 2000, the city has enforced injunctions against 79 separate gang sets, encompassing roughly 8,900 people, according to the city attorney's office. Thursday's order prevents the city from enforcing any injunctions that were granted before Jan. 19, 2018, though it can seek new ones provided that officials give targets a chance to challenge the orders in court before attempting to enforce them.
Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said the judge's ruling would leave few, if any, Angelenos subject to the orders.