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Los Angeles City Council officials this week unanimously agreed to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from enforcement of anti-gang injunctions that restricting the movements and associations of innocent city residents. At the center of the deal is a $30 million dollar settlement that will fund job training for gang members, among other projects.
The deal is seen as a positive compromise by both sides, according to the Los Angeles Times, funding initiatives for positive change without risking putting money in the hands of gang members. But the settlement has not yet been approved by a judge, so the class action isn't over quite yet.
The LA Times writes that it obtained a confidential memo from the City Attorney's office, urging City Council members to approve the settlement. Let's take a peek at what it was that convinced them to try to close this case.
Reportedly, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer encouraged the settlement for a number of reasons. He publicly called the deal "an opportunity for the city to grapple with one of its most important problems in a constructive way."
The chief attorney's deputies emphasized in the memo that the settlement would establish clear rules for enforcing injunctions. This would lessen the possibility of future suits, presumably, and similar future settlements.
Another key reason to approve the deal was apparently to avoid the possibility of a jury verdict that would have put money in the wrong hands. "The city must resolve this litigation," the memo said. "The settlement creates opportunities for gang members to obtain basic job skills ... that can turn their lives around, and does so without giving any direct payments to [them]."
Christian Rodriguez was named in the class action lawsuit on behalf of 5,700 residents of neighborhoods included in the illegal curfews. Like Rodriguez, many were arrested and otherwise negatively affected by the enforcement of curfews and other restrictions that had already been found unconstitutional.
"Because I was wrongly labeled as a gang member, I couldn't even be outside helping my mom with the groceries at night," Rodriguez said in a statement. "I got involved in this case to help others who like me who did nothing wrong but unjustly live in constant fear of doing something that might be perceived by a member of LAPD as a violation. I want my 2-year-old daughter to grow up without that fear."
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