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Cities Sue Gangs

August 02, 2007  | 

Several cities are asking courts for injunctions targeting specific gangs and gang members hanging out together as a way of preventing violence. In addition to hampering gang activity, the lawsuits give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members.

The 33 permanent injunctions currently in Los Angeles prohibit gang members from carrying weapons or drugs, committing any crimes, or associating with other gang members in safety zones—neighborhoods where suspected gang members live and are believed to be the most active. Punishment for breaking any of these rules include a misdemeanor charge and up to a year in jail. Studies show crime has been reduced in these areas, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office told The Charlotte Observer.

But critics say the injunctions are unfair and prevent lawful activity as well as gang behavior.

"If you're barring people from talking in the streets, it's difficult to tell if they're gang members of if they're people discussing issues," says Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The Rev. Jack Crane, pastor of Truevine Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, is reaching out to gang members to try to stop the violence in the community. He says church-based programs are more effective than the city's recent civil injunctions against gang members.

San Francisco is another city hoping to use injunctions to curb gang violence, following the examples of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Wichita Falls, Texas.

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Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Mark WAPOL @ 8/4/2007 2:38 AM

In one form or another I think “gangs” have been around for longer than we can go back to. What is alarming in this day and age is they are integrating better within the community and have adapted and changed the way they do business. Sure there are still the gangs that stick out and are overt with their presence. However it is those gangs that have adapted well, who deep down have a secure (un-detected) anchorage within the community and an influence impacting on crime and safety that we as Police need to infiltrate and either break-up or stop. We have to implement or attempt to implement new strategies in policing these people. We, as Police, will be criticized by some. Generally it is those that don’t know, think they know or don’t understand. They live in a shell of life that excludes them from truly understanding. With the freedom of weapons within the USA, I feel any new strategy with merit is worth application. We must as Police Officers constantly look at new ways to battle this as does government with legislation changes.

im415 @ 8/6/2007 11:53 AM

These injunctions against gangs is a great tool for us in law enforcement to help deter criminial activity. It gives us more of a proactive approach to policing and I'm all for it! However, to all of these nay-sayers who are against these injunctions...I leave you with food for thought: at the end of your day as you're driving home patting yourselves on the back for defending gangbangers' rights, remember... they're left standing on street corners in the ghettos, the hoods, and the barrios terrorizing neighborhoods while you pull into your drive-way, safe and sound.

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