A Ramsey County district judge Friday granted Saint Paul's request for a temporary injunction that will prohibit 10 leaders of a gang known as Sureno 13 from associating with other known members of the criminal gang at the city's annual Cinco de Mayo festival next month.
Mayor Chris Coleman welcomed the decision. In a release from his office he said the ruling will provide law enforcement officials with another tool to protect the city from gang violence.
"This is an innovative solution to the problems that have arisen with gang activity in some of our neighborhoods," Coleman said. "Saint Paul is a safe city, and these injunctions are a proactive approach to send a clear message to gangs that we will not tolerate any violence in our community."
City attorney John Choi said the public has the right to be free from gang violence and intimidation, and that the court injunction will help the city protect its community.
"It's not a magic bullet in the sense that this will solve all the problems that gang violence that communities face in the state of Minnesota," Choi said. "However, I do believe this is a really important tool to be proactive and get out in front of a problem before it becomes a bigger problem."
Choi said the city would consider applying for similar injunctions for other festivals and community events. St. Paul will be the first in the state to seek a temporary injunction against a street gang.
The city used a 2007 state law that authorizes a city attorney, county attorney or the attorney general to commence a civil action against criminal gangs to enjoin criminal gang activity. Sureno 13 gang members can still go to the Cinco de Mayo festival, but the injunction language prohibits them from associating with other known gang members while inside the designated safe zone. They are banned from wearing gang colors, flashing gang signs, trespassing, blocking a street or sidewalk or other disruptive acts.
A violation of the court's order is a misdemeanor.
But the American Civil Liberties Union has voiced opposition to the injunction. The group said the court order relies on a lower burden of proof to convict suspects.