A Civil Suit Against Los Angeles

The federal class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Olu Orange. The lawsuit argued that the Los Angeles Police Department has ignored the ruling by California appeals court. It ruled that the curfews were “unconstitutionally vague”.

It has been 5 years already since the measures imposed by the Los Angeles Police Department have been found illegal. Nevertheless, the police have continuously enforced curfew provisions on people who were suspected to be a part of a gang.

Christian Rodriguez and Alberto Cazarez have been both charged with violating curfew in Los Angeles, California. Their attorney was Olu Orange. He is an adjunct professor at USC.
Due to his efforts, the city of Los Angeles will have to pay around 30$ million to accommodate many people who have been somehow affected by the unlawful activities of the police.

“Gang injunctions, in how they’re drafted and implemented in Los Angeles and in the cities that follow Los Angeles’ lead, are all designed to infringe upon very basic fundamental, constitutionally protected freedoms — the freedom to associate, the freedom to speak or express oneself, the freedom to move and travel freely,” Orange stated. “I also believe that they are a tool that law enforcement uses with unfettered discretion to engage in very lazy and inaccurate police work.”

The settlement is still pending approval by a federal court judge. The funds will mainly be used to fund programs, job training, for almost 5,600 people included in the lawsuit. Moreover, the money will be spent on tattoo removal for people willing to leave the gangs. The funds will also pay for the education of daughters of the two plaintiffs.

“Justice is slow. This case started in 2011 — that’s when I first started — and I’ve seen it progress since it’s gotten class-action certification, since it went through different stages. One of the named plaintiffs [Cazarez] passed away,” Gal stated. “It’s a very long process, and sometimes it might be too slow, but in the end, the system works. So you can have confidence in that.”

Orange, is a civil rights lawyer who got involved in the case after being appointed as Rodriguez’s attorney. The latter was arrested for violating curfew in 2009, despite having no gang connections. Cazarez was released as a juvenile. But it wasn’t until 2011 that Orange succeeded in getting charges dropped against Rodriguez. To help him in assembling the evidence for supporting the case, Orange put together a team. It included MiRi Song ‘09, Dornsife undergraduates, Sarah Ayad ‘12, Mitchell Diesko ‘15, Min Ji Gal ‘13, Lauren Ige ‘12, Angel Lopez ‘12 and Arpine Sardaryan ‘12.

“A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society,’,” Orange said in one of his interviews. “You have a responsibility to make society better for people.”
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Lucy Bichakhchyan

Lucy Bichakhchyan is the CEO and founder of ANSTORAGIR youth initiative.

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