HAYWARD//GANG INJUNCTIONS | During a tense exchange Tuesday night, Hayward City Manager Fran David denied her staff is ignoring the council’s priorities when it comes to gang injunctions, but hinted its efficacy may not be affirmed by any court in Alameda County.
“Until we have a situation which a gang injunction, which is an injunctive action with the courts, is warranted and can be reasonably successful, there has not be an opportunity to apply a gang injunction,” said David in an emotional give-and-take with Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, a strong supporter of gang injunctions..
Peixoto charged city staff with ignoring staff direction to include gang injunctions in its annual list of council priorities. Two weeks ago, Peixoto similarly challenged staff to deliver a status report on the issue. “Can you understand how at our last meeting I said, I don’t get the feeling that staff is fully into this gang injunction program?” he said with exasperation. “I don’t think they bought into it. I don’t think they want to do it.”
Oakland’s experiment with gang injunctions in parts of North Oakland and the Fruitvale District was met with questionable results when its legality was challenged in court. Meanwhile, Hayward has watched its East Bay neighbor’s every move for over two years all the while never implementing a plan city staff acknowledges is ready.
Over the past year, however, Oakland’s experience has yielded a legal strategy in Hayward targeting not only specific gang members, but, more importantly, the specific area of the city they congregate. City staff reported last year this plan also has drawbacks since many of Hayward’s 2,000 suspect gang members are spread across the city without any unique boundaries.
Some like Peixoto, nevertheless, have continued to press the city’s staff to be more proactive, but the conversation Tuesday night between him and David grew increasingly hostile as she reiterated the lack of data available to move forward with gang injunctions. “It’s not that we don’t have the data,” David said with a quick-paced staccato. “It doesn’t exist at the moment in a geographical area in Hayward in which a gang injunction can be successfully applied.”
David dismissively told Peixoto if the council wants to apply a gang injunction with regard for its being successful, her staff would comply. “We cannot guarantee it will have any value or any success, if it’s not done correctly based on good data and the correct data and have success in the Alameda County courts system, sir,” David said, tersely.
But, Peixoto quickly cut off David and charged staff with changing language in the council’s approved priorities to consolidate gang injunctions with other public safety initiative and using the term, “gang injunction-like approach.”
“You watered it done then, you’re watering it down now,” said Peixoto.
“I don’t expect to have an argument over it,” David shot back. “If you want it, we will put it in. If there are four votes on the council, we will put it in.”
“Whaddaya mean if there are four votes?! Peixoto said incredulously, adding the council had already adopted gang injunctions as a priority in the past.
The seeds of the red-hot exchange, unusual for the normally easygoing Hayward City Council, came after numerous council members; including Mayor Michael Sweeney slammed David’s revised report on council priorities. Sweeney called the document too long and containing excessive complexity; finding faults and errors like a college professor trashing a student’s graduate thesis. At times charts contained in the reports were mismatched with corresponding narrative, said Sweeney. “I don’t find this all particularly useful. It’s a lot of information that doesn’t seem to be particularly coordinated.”
Nevertheless, Councilmember Francisco Zermeno believes gang injunctions will come to Hayward sooner or later. “We eventually will have a gang injunction program is my guess,” said Zermeno, who notes Oakland’s program has not be readily defensible in court. Hayward also needs suspected gang members to congregate in a single location before they can move forward, said Zermeno. “Let’s get them all together in one particular neighborhood and convince them to buy a house and then we can act against them.” The comment appeared to be a joke, but nobody was laughing.