Ken Garcia: Score one for The City in bid to fight violent gang menace

| December 12, 2006

I’m not sure what the best part of San Francisco’s new gang injunction against the notorious Oakdale Mob is — that it appears to be incredibly effective or that a few civil liberties groups have tried to fight it.

But if there was ever a story to show how politically warped San Francisco can be, the opposition to the Oakdale legal case puts it in a shiny case for all to see.

For those caught up in the holiday party circuit, City Attorney Dennis Herrera recently won an injunction against 22 known members of the Oakdale Mob that bars them from congregating in a four-block area of their Bayview-Hunters Point turf. The order places a curfew on them and prohibits them from such activities as using guns, dealing drugs, coercing people into their gang or trying to intimidate witnesses.

Now, I realize that denying a tiny group of The City’s youth from acting like hardened, lifetime criminals may sound harsh. But in this case it’s warranted, necessary and will probably need to be copied to deal with some of San Francisco’s other well-known merchants of terror.

And that’s not putting too fine a point on it, if you read the same 250-page court document I did that outlines the incredible lawlessness, cruelty and violent behavior that personifies the Oakdale Mob and the neighborhood they have long claimed as their own. And only a myopic advocacy group could possibly object to curtailing the gang’s behavior — unless you think that reducing criminal activity shouldn’t be The City’s key priorities.

The record, however, couldn’t be clearer. Members of the Oakdale Mob, which takes its name from an adjoining public housing complex, are suspected in 12 murders in San Francisco in the last three years.

Their rap sheets are so long you’d need a 3-foot stack of paper to print them. And their actions are so well known to the Police Department that more than a dozen officers signed sworn affidavits attesting to the gang members’ affinity for routine acts of violence, sexual assaults and brazen drug trafficking.

The only question I had after perusing the file was why more of the gang members aren’t in prison — which seems to speak to the shortcomings of our local prosecutors. But that’s one of the reasons Herrera sought the court order, and why deputy city attorney Machaela Hoctor spent so many months working to build the case.

"It’s overwhelming, the extent to which the crimes have occurred,’’ Hoctor said. "The severity and pattern of crime committed by these gang members clearly warrant nothing short of prison. If people are so concerned about civil rights, they should be concerned about the civil rights of the victims.’’

Victims such as the 13-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by six gang members for months.

Or the numerous people who were attacked and had their vehicles carjacked at gunpoint.

Rival gang member Arkelylius Collins was allegedly shot to death by two Oakdale mobsters in September 2005, and his friend Terrell Rollins was shot multiple times in the same incident. Rollins survived and was to testify in the case but was murdered earlier this year by suspected Oakdale gang members.

Or you could just ask any of the public housing residents who have lived in constant fear of the gang members. One elderly man recently told Hoctor that since the city attorney’s action, this is the first time he hasn’t slept on his floor in years — since he was always worried about getting shot by the daily gunfire.

A few remarkable things about the Oakdale case jump out. Ever since the injunction went into effect last month, not one person has violated the terms of the court order since they’re too afraid of being arrested. And even though the Oakdale Mob members were known throughout the neighborhood for their daily criminal activities, only one of the 22 officially recognized gangsters lived in San Francisco. They were coming in each day from locales such as Pittsburg, Vallejo, Concord, Fairfield and Oakland, where many of them owned homes — the rewards of their lucrative drug-dealing operation.

"They were literally commuting to commit crimes," Hoctor told me. "The injunction is like closing down the storefront. They can open up shop elsewhere, but with a gang, that’s awfully hard to do.’’

That’s because they’d end up on somebody else’s turf, where they would be shown the same kindness they once inflicted on others.

It’s a case where they fought the law and the law won.

That doesn’t happen frequently in San Francisco, but it’s worth noting when it does.

Ken Garcia’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends in The Examiner. E-mail him at kgarcia@examiner.com or call him at (415) 359-2663.

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