Sometimes I just don’t understand politics at our State Capitol.
For those of us who have closely followed this legislative session, it has been a bizarre mix of disappointment and confusion. While the struggle over the state budget is understandably tense and complex, there was legislation that was both simple and timely. Yet so far, it has languished in committee.
I am referring to HB 1126, the gang injunction bill so named because of its most controversial measure. In effect, this bill would have allowed law enforcement officers to place restrictions on confirmed gang members with the intent of disrupting their criminal activity. Our state, which has the regrettable distinction of placing fourth in a nationwide survey of gang violence, is in desperate need of such measures.
This measure was the unfortunate brunt of many well-meaning but misplaced efforts of the ACLU, who whipped up a last minute frenzy of community activists. ACLU representatives complained that enforcing an injunction would necessarily be racially prejudicial and detrimental to the gang members themselves. I find that a disparaging remark to the professional law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges who would be responsible for enforcing and enacting an injunction.
I am also less concerned for gang members, who have proven their intent to wreak havoc, and far more concerned with the safety and well-being of innocent victims caught by a stray bullet, as well as the youths gang members target for recruitment.
While HB 1126 languishes in committee, our legislature has had the wherewithal to approve a law making the unauthorized killing of livestock a crime punishable by up to a year in jail. It is unfortunate that our state leaders have placed a higher priority on the value of someone else’s cow or chicken than on its citizens who live in blighted communities in the shadow of criminal street gangs.