Houston’s Harris County plans to unleash a new weapon against members of the Bloods and Crips gangs who have menaced a Houston apartment complex, helping label it the region’s most dangerous, reports the Houston Chronicle. The county is expected to file its first anti-gang civil injunction, a lawsuit that will target 33 documented gang members who are suspected of selling drugs in the 700-unit Haverstock Hills complex and the surrounding community. The neighborhood is a low-income community that has been terrorized by gang members, dope dealers and pimps, said District Attorney Pat Lykos.
Some cities nationally have been hesitant to file civil injunctions because they could be viewed as violations of gang members’ constitutional rights of free expression and association. Appellate courts in California and Texas have upheld the injunctions. More than 2,400 people live at the complex, 800 of whom are children, but the number of people milling about in Haverstock can grow to nearly 4,000 at night, police said. In 2009, police responded to more than 3,000 calls at the complex. San Antonio was the first Texas city to implement an injunction against gangs, in 1999, after the state passed a law permitting it. Fort Worth and El Paso also have created gang safety zones.