Gang members seen talking to one another or standing together on public property could be arrested under a bill being pushed in the state legislature and supported by some prosecutors and Boston police, reports the Boston Globe. The bill would give broad authority to police and prosecutors to bring civil lawsuits against reputed gangs or their members, forbidding them to hang out together in the neighborhoods and parks that police say they terrorize.
Such laws have been hailed as a successful crime-fighting tool in cities such as Fort Worth, San Diego, and Los Angeles, which has been imposing civil injunctions against gangs since the 1980s. Civil libertarians say the approach is too sweeping and violates the constitutional rights of people who have not been charged with any crime and may be wrongly identified as gang members. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who estimated that Boston has about 2,000 gang members, believes the injunctions would help neighborhoods. “These groups of kids that hang around together that sell drugs, that run guns, if you’re able to separate them, that’s a huge benefit,” he said.