SAN FRANCISCO - City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Thursday a new initiative
to obtain civil injunctions that would prevent suspected drug dealers from entering "a roughly 50-square-block area of the Tenderloin and adjacent South of Market neighborhood," according to the City Attorney's Office.
Herrera was asked why civil injunctions are being employed as
opposed to arresting the dealers for drug dealing under the criminal laws. He explained "it is another tool in the tool kit," and will give law enforcement the potential for imposing financial penalties.
Following the announcement, Public Defender Mano Raju issued a statement sharply disagreeing with the city attorney's approach.
Citing Herrera's former use of civil injunctions against gang
members, Raju said, "as we saw in the past with misguided gang injunctions, one-sided fact gathering leads to injustice, further traumatization of those who are human trafficking victims, further litigation, and wasted resources."
At Thursday's announcement, Herrera contrasted the new initiative
with gang injunctions issued in years past, pointing out the gang injunctions were based on the defendants' status as gang members. The new injunctions will be based on evidence of the defendants' criminal conduct in selling drugs in the Tenderloin.
In Raju's opinion, the initiative is "another chapter in the war
on drugs that has simply failed to impact drug use or sales, while harming low-income people and communities of color. More enforcement of low-level, subsistence street level sellers is not the solution to this ongoing public health crisis."
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin did not participate
with Herrera and San Francisco Mayor London Breed at the online announcement.
In a statement, Boudin wished the City Attorney well, but said "we were not consulted in the crafting of this proposal.
Boudin said, "Until the city is serious about treating addiction
and the root causes of drug use and selling, these recycled,
punishment-focused approaches are unlikely to succeed at doing anything more than making headlines."