Money for gang injunctions, not education.
That’s how many students feel toward the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction, which would restrict the activity of 40 Norteño gang members. The safety zone would stretch from 21st Street to High Street and from Brookdale Avenue to Glascock Street, including Fremont Federation of High Schools.
Many thought Oakland would stop pursuing the Fruitvale injunction when City Attorney John Russo, the injunction’s main supporter, announced his resignation in May.
Still, Oakland is determined to go forth with the injunction; the Oakland Tribune reported on May 17 that the City Council decided in a 4-3 vote to continue funding the city’s injunctions, including the North Oakland gang injunction against 17 North Side gang members.
“Instead of creating a safety zone, the city of Oakland should worry about the education of children so that when they grow up they won’t commit crimes,” said Media Academy junior Jazmin Garcia.
Many students think the injunction would waste money that could fund Oakland schools instead; the East Bay Express reports the Fruitvale and North Oakland gang injunctions have cost $761,128 so far, at a time when the Oakland Unified School District has laid-off staff for the 2011-2012 school year.
In addition to the district cuts, schools at Fremont Federation have also been asked to cut their budgets, forcing them to layoff teachers.
“The safety zone is pointless because it doesn’t actually benefit people or reduce crime,” said Garcia.
Garcia might be right. The North Side Oakland gang injunction has not shown promising results. According to the Bay Citizen, since the injunction was enacted, shootings in the zone have doubled.
Still, officials believe the Fruitvale injunction will reduce gang activity.
“For years Oakland residents have been victims of violent crimes,” said Cynthia Castellanos, a dispatcher for the Oakland Police Department. “Gang crimes have [risen]. The gang injunction sends a clear message that Oakland has had enough.”
However, many students don’t view the injunction as a solution.
“Our communities have to work on their own to control the violence, not [resort] to extreme measures like putting a gang injunction on a whole community,” said Media junior Luis Arroyo.
The underlying problem, Garcia says, is education.
“It’s sad because people care more about the gang injunction than they care about the budget cuts,” said Garcia. “It makes me feel like no one cares about our broken education system. No one wants to do anything to fix it.”