FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 9, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: SF Public Defender’s Office | PubDef-MediaRelations@sfgov.org | (628)249-7946
SF Public Defender’s Office Lauds City Attorney’s Dismissal of Tenderloin Injunctions
Court of Appeal Decision Could Set Precedent for the State
SAN FRANCISCO – After a nearly two-year legal battle, the San Francisco City Attorney has dismissed the 28 civil injunction lawsuits that former San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed to ban individuals from the Tenderloin under civil nuisance laws. Earlier this year, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a San Francisco trial court’s ruling which denied the City’s motion for preliminary injunctions on constitutional grounds. Many of these individuals were clients of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office at the time the civil injunctions were announced, and nearly all of them are Latinx community members. Thanks to a large outpouring of community opposition and pro bono legal representation by Swanson & McNamara LLP, ACLU of Northern California, and DLA Piper, the proposed injunctions were defeated in both the trial and appellate courts. The City’s dismissals bring this harrowing journey to an end for the vulnerable individuals named in the lawsuits.
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju commented, “These civil injunctions would have criminalized Latinx community members for merely being present in the Tenderloin neighborhood. They were antithetical to the values of equality and freedom that San Franciscans hold. I’d like to express our deep appreciation to Swanson & McNamara, ACLU of Northern California, and DLA Piper for the hundreds of hours they put into this successful litigation to stop these unlawful injunctions. And now that these injunctions are behind us, I reiterate my call for immediate and substantial investments in community-based services and treatment for individuals struggling with substance use disorders or trapped in an exploitative drug trade, rather than in further attempts at criminalization and incarceration of low-income communities of color.”
Mamta Ahluwalia, Deputy Public Defender who led the Public Defender’s Office’s support for this litigation, commented, “Our clients who would have been harmed by these injunctions have families, jobs, and/or obtain vital social and health services in the Tenderloin. A City Attorney should be involved in the business of protecting and upholding the interests and concerns of the working class, not targeting them for banishment using public funds. I am glad that the ultimate result of this litigation is a published opinion that will have a wide-reaching impact in preventing future unlawful attempts by cities at targeting and profiling communities of color for exclusion from public spaces.”