SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman denied a request for a preliminary injunction from San Francisco that would have prohibited four people who had previously been arrested for selling drugs from the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods.
The City’s Attorney’s Office presented arguments in the first week of May, asking that the four Oakland residents be barred from stepping foot in the neighborhoods, citing “criminal law hasn’t been enough to stop the alleged dealers from contributing to a public nuisance.”
The lawsuits were originally fired in September 2020 by District Attorney Dennis Herrera, against 28 alleged drug dealers. Herrera wanted to establish a 50-square-block area that the alleged drug dealers could not enter, in an attempt to break the supply chain for drug addicts in those neighborhoods.
The DA’s Office also cited the growth of overdoses and fentanyl deaths as reason for the proposed ban. According to The Economist, more people died from overdoses in San Francisco in 2020 than from COVID-19.
The defendants – Guadaloupe Aguilar-Benegas, Jarold Sanchez, Victor Zelaya and Christian Noel-Padilla – were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who questioned whether banishing four alleged dealers from the Tenderloin would have an impact on the area.
“For the most part, I don’t see California cases that say anybody can be excluded from an entire city, or county or neighborhood,” Schulman said. It was noted as an exception that some gang injunctions impose overnight curfews that bar individuals from an area for a certain duration of time.
If the proposed injunctions were passed by Judge Schulman, the alleged dealers could face arrest, misdemeanor charges and civil penalties of up to $6,000 each time they’re caught entering the Tenderloin.
“This is an ongoing problem and each of these folks is contributing probably in a quite minor way,” Schulman said. “They are street level dealers, they are not ‘kingpins,’ but they are all contributing to a much larger problem.”