The court memorandum (PDF) that St. Paul is using to seek injunctions against a local gang notes that the Sureño 13 gang has been disruptive at the festival in previous years, and caused trouble in the area at other times.
The city is going to court in an effort to keep gang members from attending or disrupting the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. City officials say they expect the gang to try to disrupt this year’s festival, which will be held May 1 and 2 on St. Paul’s West Side.
A hearing on the city’s motion for a temporary injunction has been scheduled for April 24 in Ramsey County District Court.
The city says that the group was responsible in 2008 for a drive-by shooting, assaults and disorderly conduct, along with other incidents in recent years.
“The time has arrived to abate the public nuisance caused by Defendant [the gang] and its members during Cinco,” the memo states.
The gang uses the Cinco de Mayo festival – a celebration of a famous battle in Mexico that is used to foster Hispanic culture and tradition – to show off its violence and recruit new members, the memo says. It’s a turf-defending tactic that also serves to threaten rival gangs and settle scores with enemies, it says.
And city officials claim the gang constitutes a public nuisance under the law, leading them to seek injunctions against the gang and its members.
This is apparently the first time a Minnesota city has sought injunctions to keep gang members from a festival or area, but it’s been done in California and Texas, according to the memo.
The memo notes that the injunctions do not violate the rights of association of the gang members, because “the Supreme Court has stated that the Constitution does not recognize a generalized right of ‘social association.’ ”
It also argues that “unlike statutes which are potentially applicable to all persons, gang injunctions apply only to those creating a ‘public nuisance.’ ”
“It is time for Defendant to be held accountable for its continuous and regular criminal and nuisance behavior. Most importantly, it is time to assert the right of the good persons of the District del Sol community [on the city’s West Side] to be free from such behavior during Cinco,” the memo concludes.