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Open Letter to Pastors & Community Leaders

Guilt by association is foreign to our country's legal traditions. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not for the actions of their friends or associates. Nevertheless, in bringing 21 defendants (But Not Limited To does 1 - 200)  of the Duroc Crip gang, aka DRC into the legal system; the City of Monrovia relies solely on the distasteful notion that the law should sanction individuals simply for having the wrong friends, or even the wrong relatives or even live in the wrong area of the city.

The City makes no attempt to show that the unnamed does 1- 200  (yet to be named or who will hauled into court are directly responsible for the specific, unlawful acts that are alleged to constitute a public nuisance).   Instead, the City of Monrovia alleges that each defendant is associated in some way with the (“Duroc Crip”).  The City request for the preliminary Injunction to subject each defendant to special civil disabilities not for his alleged conduct but for his alleged associations.  And then, if that does not warrant court sanctions, sue the members or does 1-200 as an “Unincorporated Associations” citing a Business Corporation Code (section 416.40 a and b) that does not apply. In addition, I believe the injunction is (1) substantially overbroad, And, (2) poses  a  realistic  danger  that  the   injunction  will significantly compromise recognized First Amendment protections of parties not before the Court/ or in the system.

The City classifies an individual as a “Duroc Crip” gang member, for example, if he “has tattoos” that police regard as consistent with gang membership; or if he “has a moniker" which the police believes is a gang name; or if he “wears clothing” that police regard as consistent with gang membership; or if he “was seen at a gang hang-out." Included are categories labeled  "at risk,” "wannabe," "associate," "temporary," "situational," "floaters,"  "hardcore," and "veterans."

The City's allegation that does 1- 200 as unnamed defendants as members of a street gang is not sufficient to demonstrate that each participated in a concerted plan to achieve a wrongful objective.

Without such proof, any liability is based on mere membership in the group and, thus, violates the First Amendment. Ulster County Court v. Allen (1979) 442 U.S. 140, 157 (due process requires that inferences bear a rational relation to the known facts). 

On the basis of evidence such as this, the City of Monrovia seeks to hold unknown does 1-200 as defendants legally accountable for the unlawful conduct attributed to the 21 identified members of “Duroc Crip”.

The City contends that defendants are active gang members subject to civil liability solely because they (1) have tattoos, (2) nicknames (3) clothing which the police regard as being consistent with gang membership, because they have (4) loitered, (5) been seen in the presence of other supposedly "known" gang members, (5) have engaged in other non-criminal behavior, like bike-riding, or (6) based on inconclusive, unsupported accusations in police declarations.

The City of Monrovia has advanced no evidence or argument to show that the Duroc Crip differs from typical street gangs in structure or organization.   Amendment prohibits this Court from imposing any legal liability — civil or criminal — on the basis of mere membership in, or association with a group.  This is true even if, as the City alleges in this case, some members of the group, or the group itself, are responsible for unlawful behavior. For all these reasons, You as clergy should seek a revisit of the preliminary injunction until or unless the city of Monrovia is more specific and reduce the “broad brush” approach currently being employed.

The proposed ban on association would forbid two brothers from drinking a beer together on their own front steps or those of a friend. It would forbid brothers or friends from riding bikes or communicating with one another in the area.  The proposed order does not limit the ban on association so that it functions to restrict only the associations that contribute to the alleged nuisance or violate the law and, as a result, the proposed ban on association is not tailored at all.  When injunctions are issued to abate a public nuisance prohibits activity that may be protected by the First Amendment, a special analysis is required.   The Supreme Court subjects such injunctions to the very strict scrutiny that it applies to any prior restraint on expression.

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