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Gang injunction debate re-ignited

A recent wave in gang violence has re-ignited the debate over a proposed gang injunction in Santa Barbara County. Community leaders proposed the plan in 2011.

Since then–it has been slugishly moving through the court system.

A brutal attack by a group of known gang members forced community leaders to address the growing issue of gang violence.

According to police, George Ied was walking home on Punta Gorda Street in October of 2010, when he was attacked.

Four men were arrested in the case. One of them, Steven Santana, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and testified against the others.

If convicted, Michael Cardenas, and brothers Ismael and Miguel Parra face life in prison.

Shortly after the brutal assault, community leaders proposed a controversial gang injunction.

It would name 30 people known as important members of the East and West side gangs.

“These are people who’ve been involved in gangs over a number of years, in significant gang related crimes,” explained Santa Barbara County Chief Deputy District Attorney, Hilary Dozer.

Among other strict rules, it would make it illegal for those named to hang out in certain areas throughout the city, including schools and parks..
The idea was met with fierce opposition.

“If you don’t involve the community on an issue that affects the community, you are kind of shooting in the dark,” said Keith Terry, the Executive Director of YStrive, a youth-run prevention and intervention program.

The injunction has spent the last two years wrapped up in a legal battle.
But some believe a recent wave of violence — including two shootings in Santa Barbara believed to be gang related — may have sparked new interest in the case.

The first happened on Olive street in February. A Ventura man was shot to death.

Last week, a known gang member was shot in a home on Wentworth Avenue. He survived, but is not cooperating with police.

No suspects have been named, and no arrests have been made in either case.

“I hope this is a wake up call to those involved, this is something that is needed. We need to do something to address the issue,” said Dozer.

Others argue the money used to push the injunction through court, and to enforce it if it does get approval, could be better spent.

“We have so many resources here, so many organization, so many concerned citizens, who are willing to take part and make the community better,” explained Terry.

Officials hope to have a ruling in the case by summer.

Both Lompoc and Oxnard have gang injunctions in place.

Officials claim the crime associated with gangs has significantly dropped in those cities.

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