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Gang Injunction Forum Draws Opponents

Organizers of a Forum for a Safer Santa Barbara billed the event as a way to find out how a gang injunction would impact the community.

They said they invited city and county leaders as well as prosecutors and law enforcement.

But the only people in the standing room only crowd at la Casa De La Raza community center said they were opposed to the issue.

Members of Poder (People Organizing for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth) said their coalition is unanimously opposed.

Speakers, including an attorney, explained how the an injunction begins as a civil rights lawsuit that leads to restraining orders. At least 30 known gang members are likely to be served if a judge approved an injunction in Santa Barbara.

Opponents said they believe it could impact more than 300 people suspected of associating with gangs.

Since it is a civil case, the people named would not be eligible for public defenders and would therefore have to hire their own attorneys to try to get their names off the injunction list.

Critics have said they are concerned about property values in on the east and west sides and along the beach where the so-called designated safety zones would be drawn.

The people named in the injunction would be prevented from socializing with each other in those areas. Other terms could be added.

City council member Dale Francisco said last week that he thought people on the east and west side would welcome the injunction because those are the areas where gang intimidation is the greatest.

People who attended the meeting at the community center said that is definitely not the case.

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