Civil injunction against 'Oakdale Mob' is working 

A 19-year-old man shot in the head Saturday afternoon in The City’ Western Addition. A 13-year-old girl critically shot lastmonth, also in the Western Addition. These two grim incidents seem to defy law enforcement’s ability to keep the peace in that beleaguered section. And yet, over in Bayview-Hunters Point, along four blocks of Oakdale Avenue, there’s good news.

A novel approach to crime fighting appears to be paying off. Last fall, City Attorney Dennis Herrera sought and won a civil injunction against a gang calling itself the "Oakdale Mob." The injunction, approved by Superior Court Judge Peter Busch, bars identified members of the gang from congregating in the area.

Civil injunctions, rare in criminal police work, have been put to work in other cities. When the idea surfaced in San Francisco, a strong civil libertarian tradition awakened to oppose it.

But there is no civil right, as we wrote when we urged Judge Busch to approve Herrera’s plan, to organize for the purpose of creating murder and mayhem in a community, of firing bullets into people’s houses, of performing armed robberies and conducting streetside drug sales. The city attorney studied the 12 murders that were committed in the area over three years and bet on a common denominator: the Oakdale Mob.

"It is a civil liberty," we commented, "to cross your own living room in an upright position, to stroll your neighborhood cheerfully, to watch your children play outside unmolested. No gang member’s ‘liberty’ to conduct nefarious business compares."

Judging by police reports and impressions of normal activity resuming in the neighborhood, civil liberties, properly understood, are prevailing. Neighborhood kids play outdoors, residents no longer duck bullets, normal business carries on, cheerfulness returns. Herrera vows to take the approach to the Western Addition, and we wish him speedy success there, too.

The Board of Supes and so-called ‘compostable’ bags

Never mind that our computer spell check didn’t accept such a word as "compostable"; we’ll buy the existence of an organic, living language. What the Board of Supervisors looks poised to do, in an excess of green enthusiasm, is require The City’s grocers to replace plastic carry-out bags with, well, "compostable" ones. In fact, a committee of supervisors is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. today to consider "Compostable Bag Mandate Ordinance #070085," hoping to move it to the full board for Tuesday passage.

The California Grocers Association, understandably enough, has several objections. Among them: the considerable problem that these bags contaminate other recyclables, creating a host of practical and legal problems not only in San Francisco, but in adjoining counties.

What’s so wrongheaded is that the mandate targets grocers only, thereby exempting the thousands of other retail establishments who hand out good old plastic bags, achieving little ecological progress and making life more costly for The City’s already endangered grocers.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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