St. Paul seeks to block gang from Cinco De Mayo

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St. Paul city officials announced Monday that the city is filing a legal injunction against a nationally known street gang which has recently made its presence felt in the city.

The lawsuit against the Sureno 13 gang comes just before Cinco de Mayo, a popular Latino fiesta, which runs May 1-2.

Police Chief John Harrington calls Sureno 13 the fastest growing gang in the Twin Cities. He says the level of violence it is able and willing to commit is escalating.

City attorney John Choi says if approved by a judge, the measure would allow St. Paul Police officers to arrest any gang member found within a so-called safe zone near the festival.

"If they want to come to the event they can certainly come with their mom or come by themself. But if they're engaging in gang behavior or basically hanging out with another known gang member -- ultimately that's what we want as a court order and then a violation of that court order is a misdemeanor crime. So that will help law enforcement in many ways," he said.

Choi says during last year's Cinco de Mayo celebration, a Sureno gang member was involved in a drive-by shooting. But law enforcement officials say that doesn't mean the festival is unsafe.

A judge will hear the city's arguments April 24.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)