Tuesday, March 31, 2009

St. Paul To Gangs: You're Not Welcome Here

St. Paul officials are making a big message to gangs: You’re not welcome here. Mayor Chris Coleman, along with other city organizers and leaders, took legal action Monday against the Sureño 13 gang, known for committing several crimes in the Twin Cities metro area. The civil legal action comes a month before the non-profit organizers of the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta host the annual event. The action aims to prevent the Sureño 13 from disrupting the festival and the surrounding neighborhood, and it has the support of both the festival organizers and neighborhood activists from St. Paul’s West Side and other neighborhoods. City Attorney John Choi said the civil action announced Monday is just the first in what could become a significant tool to combat gang activity.If the court issues a civil gang injunction order--passed by the Minnesota legislature in 2007--the court would find that the criminal gangs past activities are a public nuisance and restrict their ability to carry on future gang activities in a designated area. A violation of the courts order is a misdemeanor crime. A court hearing on the city’s motion for a temporary injunction is scheduled for April 24. The Sureño 13 gang is one of the fastest growing gangs in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Gang Strike Task Force. A known member of the gang was recently charged for his alleged role in a shooting at the Southdale Mall in Edina. Sgt. Randy Olson of the Gang Strike Task Force told reporters in February that while it's rare to see gang activity in Edina, a new trend for gangs is to move from outside the Twin Cities metro area and into nearby suburbs.