Frustrated Cities Take Gangs to Court

Lawsuits requesting injunctions gain popularity in effort to preempt violence
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Jul 30, 2007 1:00 PM CDT
Edward Palacios is arrested after he was stopped and found to have outstanding arrest warrants by the Fort Worth Police Gang Unit during a patrol of a area frequented by gang members in Fort Worth, Texas,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – San Francisco, Fort Worth, and other cities are suing gangs in an effort to curb violence, winning injunctions forbidding members to ride in cars together and even talk to each other on the street. Courts have struck down citywide measures after critics argued they unfairly target minorities, but injunctions against specific gangs or members have held up, the AP reports.

LA pioneered the tactic in the '80s and now has dozens of permanent injunctions in place; a city official says studies have demonstrated their effectiveness at dissolving criminal associations. Law enforcement counts on the laws to disrupt activity before trouble can start and give police more leeway to stop and question known gang members. "It's another tool," says a prosecutor.