DA wants two Chattanooga gangs declared a public nuisance
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) — Law enforcement officials roll out another plan to help fight gang violence in Chattanooga.
Monday morning, District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed a petition in court, asking that two Chattanooga gangs and their members be declared public nuisances.
If the petition is granted, validated gang members of the Gangster Disciples and the Grape Street Crips will be forbidden from certain activities within an established safe zone in the East Lake community.
Not only does it name the Gangster Disciples and Grape Street Crips as a public nuisance, it list verified members of each gang and crimes for which they have been previously convicted. Police Chief Fred Fletcher said there’s a reason why these two gangs are listed in the petition.
“Our data quantitative and qualitative shows those are the gangs and the individuals in those gangs who are causing the crime and disorder here,” Fletcher said.
The petition is also asking the court to consider East lake as a safety zone which would prohibit Gangster Disciples and Grape Street Crips from activities such as associating with other gang members, intimidating people, possessing guns or other dangerous weapons, forcibly recruiting and the list goes on.
East Lake resident Ruthie Wright like the idea and has voiced her concerns about gang activity.
“When a police shoots someone, activist say black lives matter, but when we’re killing our own kind, doesn’t that life matter just as well? You all can get a job. You all can help build up the community rather than tear the community down,” Wright stated.
East lake resident Samuel Smith also likes the petition idea, but went on to say the gang situation would be less of a problem if gang members had jobs.
“We see everybody working and doing something. Let these guys work. They want to get up and work and make money to take care of their family,” Smith said.
“So if they’re not working they’re committing crimes” asked by News 12.
“You got to,” Smith replied.
News 12 asked District Attorney General Neal Pinkston why the petition only limits a safe zone to East Lake and not the entire city of Chattanooga.
“There’s a legal reason behind that with the nuisance statute. You can’t be too over broad with it and so that’s why we selected a particular neighborhood for this injunction,” Pinkston said
Pinkston went on to say other areas of the city could soon be petitioned for safety zone status.
Hamilton County jail officials also like the idea but are worried this could lead to a significantly over populated jail.
“Like today, we’re 100 over the population; a hundred more than we are actually rated for and that’s just the way it’s been recently and we don’t see relief in sight,” said Hamilton County Deputy Chief Allen Branum.
A court hearing is scheduled next Monday for a judge to listen to arguments by the DA’s office as to why East Lake needs a safety zone.
Validated gang members named in the petition will also have the chance to argue in court against the petition.
Read the actual petition: east-lake-gang-injunction