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Oakland gang injunction is deceptive and wrong

June 8, 2011

Say No to John Russo! Pack the courtroom Friday, June 24, 2 p.m., Department 20, Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St., Oakland

by Gabrielle Wilson

The Alameda County Court House, where arguments on the latest gang injunction will be heard Friday, June 24, at 2 p.m. in Department 20, is where the Black Panther Party held rally after rally to “Free Huey P. Newton.” – Photo: Roz Payne
Oakland City Attorney John Russo in his plea to implement a gang injunction in Oakland’s Fruitvale District hastily used the recent criminal charge of attempted residential robbery upon a Fruitvale resident that named gang injunction defendant Anthony Garcia. In the latest arguments as to why Oakland needs another gang injunction, Garcia’s arrest was used to help sway Judge Robert Freedman to grant the injunction.

It turns out Garcia’s arrest and the resulting charge were frivolous. Prosecutors learned the statement given by Garcia’s neighbor to police was fraudulent; the neighbor said he had no idea what he was signing onto. Whether limited English or police coercion lies at the crux of the matter, the complaint given to police was recanted and charges were dropped.

Not so fast – a serious charge remains on Garcia’s record. With overzealous police and prosecutorial error at work against Garcia and others, can Judge Freedman honestly decide in favor of granting outgoing Oakland City Attorney John Russo another injunction? There’s more to come on Freedman and why his court was likely selected by Russo. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Lee reported the error in the May 15 Sunday paper.

While a conviction is a more serious mark on one’s record than a recanted charge, a charge can sometimes be just as damning. It is all some potential employers rely upon when hiring prospective employees. This mistake is not uncommon but apologies are most rare.

A district attorney should normally rely upon probable cause in deciding whether to file charges against an alleged criminal but is protected with immunity when a mistake is made. Never mind the six weeks Garcia spent in jail behind this frivolous arrest. A criminal record could prevent Garcia, 29, from certain employment opportunities for the rest of his working adult life. He now has the daunting task of trying to recapture some semblance of normalcy in his life.

Just ask Osha Neumann of the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley about the ongoing need for a “Clean Slate” program. His organization is consistently serving individuals who want to move on in their lives and yet because of criminal records cannot seem to do so.

At the heart of a gang injunction is usually an overreaching district attorney and unfettered police power determined to gentrify a targeted area. What would appear at first blush to be an efficient crime fighting tool to clean streets and rid our communities of gang activity deceptively paves the way for real estate developers to curry favor with bankers to invigorate a sluggish housing market.

At the heart of a gang injunction is usually an overreaching district attorney and unfettered police power determined to gentrify a targeted area.

This reality proves all too costly as Anthony Garcia’s rights are trampled upon. Contemplate the future untold costs of this stain on his record. In her bestselling book, “The New Jim Crow,” author and attorney Michelle Alexander outlines the inability of former convicts to ever regain full citizenship. With criminal records in tow, an ex-con is unduly prevented from regaining full citizenship, which includes voting in most states. The U.S. Constitution and the tenet that one can pay his debt to society and receive full re-integration is now a myth.

States bear a costly burden in creating a permanent underclass of fringe citizens. To illustrate, in California a bill is currently before the legislature that aims to reduce our inmate population by granting medical parole to inmates who no longer pose a threat to society. If this bill passes, our state will save millions. It is simple: Inmates with severe medical issues and the attendant costs to care and police them could be eligible for medical parole. However, tough-on-crime advocates want all prisoners to rot in prison no matter how high the price. Kudos to Mark Leno for introducing this bill because this model is so last century and is not working.

However, the smart-on-crime policy Attorney General Kamala Harris propagates is the better approach because it is too easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We cannot expect different results using the same failed policies. Gang injunctions have been tried in numerous jurisdictions only to fail.

As Oakland fights rising crime, a sluggish real estate market and too few jobs or opportunities for its youth, gang injunctions are a waste of scarce taxpayer dollars that could be put to better use. To be sure, gang injunctions are a sure way to ameliorate problems on the surface but leave untold consequences. Just ask Garcia and the other named defendants who will not find it easy to recover.

As Oakland fights rising crime, a sluggish real estate market and too few jobs or opportunities for its youth, gang injunctions are a waste of scarce taxpayer dollars that could be put to better use.

In this unfortunate marriage between the Oakland Police Department, district attorney and city attorney, which entity will attempt to remedy this huge transgression upon Garcia or the public trust? Most agencies will not admit mistakes even when made public. As Garcia picks up the pieces of his life, a public apology is in order, but waiting for public officials to do the right thing is quite another matter.

Time might be better spent questioning the many affidavits signed by OPD officers as part of the city attorney’s case for the gang injunctions. Oakland could learn something from its neighbor across the bay. In San Francisco, dozens of criminal convictions were recently overturned after the alert San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi discovered the faulty procedures used in crime laboratories to gain illegal convictions.

A conviction, much like a gang injunction, is only as legal as the foundation upon which it rests. Some Oakland police officers are not strangers to lies, innuendos or deceit; just check the many lawsuits that continue to be paid out to unfortunate victims at the hands of rogue cops. This is why the affidavits signed by OPD officers should have been the first place Garcia’s defense attorney Michael Siegel should have looked when preparing his defense.

Who is Siegel and why is he representing Garcia and others to their peril? Early on Siegel admitted that he made a mistake causing over 50 defendants to lose representation. Though a procedural error, all it takes for an injunction to be granted is the conviction of one defendant.

When KPFA radio broadcaster and producer Nadra Foster was beaten by 12 or so Berkeley police officers three years ago, it was Siegel’s father, Dan Siegel, also an attorney and a KPFA station board member, who lauded KPFA management for calling the police on her while her daughters looked on. She had been told to leave the building and did not understand the reason for the request. She is still suffering from injuries as a result of the severe beating.

Siegel appears to have overlooked pages of affidavits signed by several OPD officers, many of whom live outside of Oakland, swearing that these named defendants are gang members who committed crimes, that they are menaces to society and they should be punished. Curious to note, however, the affidavits themselves are repetitive – cut and pasted text with recycled facts according to Oakland Police Officer Frank Morrow, who refused to sign on when presented with one.

The entire process is flawed as ever, which is probably why a federal judge called a meeting with police administration and the City of Oakland in April 2011 to force the terms of the settlement intended to clean up that department that followed the infamous “Riders” scandal and trial.

As Oakland City Attorney John Russo leaves Oakland for Alameda with two gang injunctions, possibly three, under his belt along with a couple of minority owned businesses he was instrumental in closing, he is poised to develop the Alameda Naval Air Base. The three Alameda City Council members who elected Russo after he campaigned and donated money to help get them elected have their work cut out in trying to diminish their direct conflicts of interest. Alamedans should have taken cues from the corrupt Southern California town of Bell and its city manager, Robert Rizzo, who was charged with taking $5.5 million from working class residents. The small minority owned businesses in Oakland and Alameda shut down by incoming Alameda City Manager John Russo that used to help people prepare legal documents now runs a food donation program that provides free food to the hungry.

As for Oakland, the fate of the Fruitvale District and its proposed gang injunction now rests with Judge Robert Freedman, who is no stranger to controversy. Once subject to disbarment by the Judicial Council of California, the administrative agency charged with holding judges honest, he had been cited for filing false affidavits and received probation. Apparently this was not enough to place him on the fringes of society, but what of Garcia and the North Oakland residents and all the others subject to the whims of society’s current displeasure with disposable immigrants and people of color in general? If Garcia is to be considered more than a pawn for real estate developers, his case is a clarion call for the masses to wake up.

Gabrielle Wilson
Gang injunctions are part of a larger dilemma: class warfare, immigration, equal protection of the laws, civil rights and the toll that unfettered police power and gentrification take from society. The next court hearing on the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction is scheduled for Friday, June 24, 2 p.m., in Judge Freedman’s courtroom, Department 20, at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St., Oakland.

Gabrielle Wilson, J.D., a legal affairs reporter and the host of Jazz Vignettes on KPFA, 94.1 FM, Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-noon, and KRML, 94.7 FM, Sundays, 2-4 p.m., can be reached at missgabriellewilson@yahoo.com. Become a fan of Jazz Vignettes on Facebook. Follow Gabrielle on Twitter: GabbyWilson.


11 thoughts on “Oakland gang injunction is deceptive and wrong

  1. Dan Siegel

    Gabrielle, get your facts right. I did not praise anyone for calling the police on Nadra Foster. In fact I reached out to her and helped her find an attorney to assist her in making claims against the police.

    My son Michael and the attorneys who defended the defendants charged in the injunction case have done a terrific job, and the defendants will confirm that. Gabrielle has not been following the rulings in the court case or the actions of the Oakland City Council in backing off the entire injunction campaign – although they could and should have done more. I am not sure why she is making these gratuitous and unjustified attacks. The injunctions are bad policy and bad law. Rather than attack the people who have done so much to fight against them Gabrielle should be singing their praises.

    Reply
    1. Ian Welsen

      Part 1
      Dan Siegel, what a pitiable, disturbed soul! He can't refute the content nor context of the insightful, legally "spot on" article by Ms. Wilson, so in his White-Male-Upper Class-Privileged-Caveman style, he attacked Ms. Wilson like he wanted to attack Richard Phelps and Daniel Borgström at a KPFA board meeting! (See video of Siegel provoking a fight saying he wants to "Step Outside", "Go Around The Block" at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjBqU7F_m9s) In this new "google world", your words and actions will always come back to testify against you.

      There are far too many people whom have expressed this fact, not sentiment, that his comments as Executive Director and Legal Counsel for KPFA regarding Nadra Foster's beat down and arrest were and are still insensitive and blatantly grounded in deep seed racism! How can someone of his self-perceived liberal, permissive, legal understanding not comprehend the danger in anyone calling the police on any Black person at any time for any reason? Put the weed down Dude, you tripping! It is this drug induced haze that has him believing that "I'm right, it's O.K., no one knows, I got away with it!" Get a hold of reality Man! WE JUST SAY NO! Here's video of Nadra Foster's interview at a court hearing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REbDCcLkaxg
      and here's video of her arrest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44gp0BXCNpw

      Oddly enough, Siegel's comment represented the defense of the actions of KPFA management, yet he wants everyone to believe that he supported Nadra Foster and even offered assistance in securing legal defense! Isn't this another example of an erupting and very troubling theme of clear cut conflict on Siegel's behalf? Is he representing KPFA or offering to help a wronged soul in need of real help? Can't tell when your trippin! WE JUST SAY NO! Further videos on this issue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v<wbr>=vii7ZiUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO6nKHdrCxg&NRhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2r6VXUUyEQ

      This is just more proof of Siegel playing his self-perceived Class Privilege card as a boastful "Neo-Lib", a racist liberal, hiding behind the myth of service, using smoke (weed) and mirrors! Put the weed down Dude, you aren't fooling anyone, we all aren't high and in the same trip with you! You see, there is no justice nor success in simply claiming that you did something, what ever it might be, unless you are admitting guilt and sincerely asking for forgiveness. Even then only GOD, whatever GOD or Supreme Being you believe in- if any besides yourself, knows if it's sincere and accepts it! WE JUST SAY NO!

      Siegel's eroding, foul, weed filled aire of superiority, and false sense of security is gone and we all see that "the emperor has no clothes!" He has members of his own race, religion, sex, and co-workers that now publicly state he works for the capitalist, is Burgois, a Facist, and a fraud! In fact, he was sued for fraud and defamation. That should go well with his son's admitted dereliction of his legal duties in the gang injunction case Siegel is sooo proud of! Here's another example: Dan Siegel and his fascist friends are either insane or bought and paid for by the capitalist class to destroy KPFA. WE JUST SAY NO! Here is more on Dan Siegel: http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com/2010/08/siege

      Siegel's son's admitted dereliction of his legal duties in the gang injunction case that he is sooo proud of is a complete mystery to all knowledgable of the case! How is it that the runt goes into the courtroom representing all the defendants in the case and leaves representing only one? What defect on his part left all these defendants unrepresented and who's fault was it? More importantly, why wasn't it corrected? You see, with the gang injunction being a civil matter, not a criminal matter, there only needs to be one defendant that looses, whether by judgment or default, and everybody looses! We ain't loaded, WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Reply
    2. Ian Welsen

      Part 2
      But perhaps what is truly at the bottom of this attack is that Ms. Wilson carefully pointed out that the runt did not pursue the lead of the perjurious testimony concealed in the affidavits of the crooked Oakland City Attorney John Russo's police witnesses. This is particularly telling because the runt had the audacity to contact Ms. Wilson proclaiming that this information could single handedly overturn the gang injunction, but forgot she published the information to contact her named source in the article! What an IDIOT!!! He did not need anything from Ms. Wilson, just simply read the article, get the name, his employment, and contact him! Was that ever done? You forget shit when you HIGH! WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Now son Michael is claiming that the crooked judge in this case, Robert Freedman- an admitted and convicted liar himself, says that he has a conflict of interest due to relationship of you-his dad with members of the Oakland City government. First, this same judge has already stated that there was no conflict and he could continue to represent the defendants. Second, if there are some new revelations in this case that the public is unaware of, then where are the pleadings, hearings and order determining the conflict? Did we miss something, or did you imagine something while stoned? WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      This withdrawal as counsel only comes after the Oakland City Council has moved to continue the previous gang injunctions against the Black Community and not stopping there nor with the Latino version being decided now. So he loses the case for ALL the defendants and uses a lame excuse that the judge told him he was conflicted. Did we miss something again, or did you imagine something while stoned again? WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      A loss is still a loss! There was exceedingly poor representation and dereliction of his legal responsibilities by Siegel of these Latino defendants that caused the loss. In his own haze, Seigel had a flash back to imagine that his son Michael and the attorneys who defended the defendants charged in the injunction case had done a terrific job, and the defendants will confirm that. Hello, THEY LOST!! Do you think that you won because you represented them and THEY LOST! Who do you think is happy with that!! What type of self congratulatory spin is this? Do you think in your weed filled haze that you have fooled the public again!? WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Siegel is right that the Oakland City Council has had to back off the injunctions for a while but not because he did anything! It's because Ms. Wilson, plaintiff Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim and the writers at http://Nowtruth.org had exposed their crooked City Attorney John Russo for corruption with a five year barrage of facts reports and evidence that was uncontroverted! You should also bear in mind that Mr. Russo was responsible for censoring Ms. Wilson on another KPFA show and to this day she is still frightened of what may happen. What does Siegel know about that incident? You can read more on that story at: http://nowtruth.org/censored-in-berkeley-by-oakla…. The City of Oakland could and can not defend Russo's actions and he was forced out because of it. Russo had become a political and social pariah as well as a financial liability. The now departed Russo ran off to the City of Alameda, but the exorcism of this demon will continue! You can view the 2009 video of Oakland City Attorney John Russo's Political Suicide- Must Resign at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukIU4CDoLnI

      Where were the Siegels when the Black Community needed attorney's to represent the Black defendants of the North Oakland Gang injunction? Where did you say Dan? Getting stoned? WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Like the ACLU and the other so called liberal civil rights organization, they did not fight the establishment of the Gang Injunction, the did not fight for the abolition of the Gang Injunction, they did not successfully defend anyone charged in the Gang Injunction, They merely set out to agree on the injunction and enforce it in a less inclusive way! They only wanted to limit the gang injunction in some ways, NOT STOP IT! You had to be high to miss this one! WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Where were the Siegels when there was all the Oscar Grant protest? They offered sanctuary and an observation post to a "selected group of activist". Who were these activist and where did they come from? Why does Siegel want to differentiate between the activist singling out the activist, abolitionist, anarchist and protesters from each other. What does he really know that we do not?

      The Oscar Grant family learned throughout their ordeal that there were many "activist" in their midst that where working for the government and special interest. It was clear their job was to gather intelligence, create their desired set up to incriminate certain individuals and discredit other, and cause a disturbance, but they were identified by their actions. What do you know Dan that we don't?

      Reply
    3. Ian Welsen

      Part 3
      This infiltration and incrimination is a common tool of the government and special interest, whom in some cases have a common interest, to cause disturbance. This is a weapon to justify legal and police action to deprive a certain group of people of their rights and for real estate developers to co-opt, seize and gentrify these selected communities! These acts create the notion that there's a need for "protection" against these hooligans whom destroy our property, rob and steal from us and threaten our lives! So now the City must hire and train more police, not cut back, and expand it's intelligence and co-operation with other law enforcement officials to enforce the idea of the needed defense spin! It is well established that these acts were largely perpetrated by people from outside of Oakland. But what confused so many people is where did all these rioters/protesters come from so suddenly? It was always pointed out that they emerged from near certain BART stations, but were undetected prior to their emergence. Rest assured the real estate developers and police, donors and lobbyist, are working overtime with judges, politicians and their bagmen to achieve their goal. Corruption has never been worst than now in Oakland and Alameda County! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Siegel didn't the Grant Family to represent, he may be assisting some others, but they are warned, aware and WE JUST SAY NO!

      Is Siegel the smoke (weed) and mirrors master of disguises with his represent/work both sides and control the outcome? This reminds me of the inevitable outcome of the arms dealers from the World Wars and conflicts that sold/sell guns to both sides at war! Whom did they sell the superior weapons and technology to and to whom's demise? They benefited no matter what the outcome! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS? Siegel's conflict is internal but shows externally to all!

      Siegel, an admitted user of Marijuana, is an ardent supporter of Prop 19 to legalize Marijuana and contributed money to it's cause. It's no wonder since he was busted for possession of Marijuana in his baggage at the airport, which is a Federal crime. What was the disposition of this case? Now with the Gang Injunction, a youth that has never been convicted of a crime, or one that might have only been suspected of something, or had a small about of weed stands the chance of being sued, a judgment ordered against them and later convicted of a crime for what Siegel got away with! WE JUST SAY NO! Or is the truth that YOU did win WITH THEIR LOSS?

      Perhaps all this reactionary self-implosion by Siegel is not more graphically illustrated then by the complaint by KPFA management to Ms. Wilson regarding this same article. Why would "Free Speech Radio" complain about the title of the author of this same print article circulated by this publication? This article was not the subject of a broadcast, it was a print media press release! With Siegel as Executive Director and Legal Counsel for KPFA, why would the authors title be a concern for KPFA? She has operated as a legal analyst for years and in that capacity has not only served admirably, but as with this article, has been receiving rave reviews and is published on thousands of websites and print media! She is the ONLY Black female jazz show host in the NATION, female jazz programmer, and producer on 3 shows at two stations! Who initiated this action by KPFA management and why? As every move by Ms. Wilson is being scrutinized and criticized, I smell Siegel's weed again! WE JUST SAY NO!

      It is painfully clear that Siegel is just another passive-aggressive racist "Neo Lib" of White-Male-Upper Class-Privilege; his comments as Executive Director and Legal Counsel for KPFA regarding Nadra Foster's beat down and arrest were and are still insensitive and blatantly grounded in deep seed racism; has members of his own race, religion, sex, and co-workers that now publicly state he works for the capitalist, is burgois, a facist, and a fraud;, he's sued for fraud and defamation; represents/works both sides of a conflict; works for special interest to the detriment of others; did not defend anyone charged in the Black North Oakland Gang Injunction; did not successfully defend anyone charged in the Latino Gang Injunction; offered sanctuary and an observation post to a "selected group of activist"; was busted for possession of Marijuana in his baggage at the airport; supports the legalization of Marijuana- i.e. the growers and sellers; and use Marijuana. WE JUST SAY NO!

      When the TRUTH is the that SIEGEL did win WITH THEIR LOSS, you MUST ask, WHO IS SIEGEL WORKING FOR!?

      So now, roll another one, hit it, smoke this situation over, then drift off into that space where everything in your trip is fine with the world! WE JUST SAY NO!

      Reply
  2. Berkeley Native

    The facts are not in dispute; interpretation would appear to be where you get confused. You already publicly spoke to this. The SF Chronicle ran the story and quoted your sanctioning of management's call to the Berkeley Police upon Ms. Foster for refusing to leave the station as she worked. You go on to say everyone is appalled at what occurred after the police arrived and beat her down but that does not excuse your former position that agrees that they should have been called to begin with. Regarding your offer to help Ms. Foster find an attorney; this only raises ethical issues besides, the gesture does not make you a nice guy, just unethical at least as to this transaction. Too little too late. This beating should never have happened. The Chronicle text is below. Not that I consider the Chronicle an ally of the black community, but here are your own words. -Gabrielle Wilson

    Tension high at KPFA after volunteer arrested

    Leslie Fulbright, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    Dan Siegel, an attorney for Pacifica Radio, said management felt afraid when Foster refused to leave. "Everyone is appalled at what occurred, but I'm not sure I would blame the
    person who called the police," he said.

    E-mail Leslie Fulbright at lfulbright@sfchronicle.com
    Copyright 2008 SF Chronicle

    Reply
  3. Antwone

    live in Fruitvale and somebody just got shot outside my front window. All I can say is F you Ms. Wilson.

    Reply
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