DuPage judge rejects anti-gang injunction

Chicago Sun-Times May 27, 2000

A judge dealt a setback Friday to a DuPage County lawsuit that seeks to bar members of a West Chicago gang from hanging out together.

DuPage County Circuit Judge John Darrah rejected prosecutors’ request to bar 20 alleged members of the Satan Disciples from associating together publicly, flashing gang signs or shouting gang slogans.

He said the effort to ban actions that are not illegal — such as gang members associating together in public — raised “serious constitutional questions.”

His ruling seems to undercut a major part of the civil lawsuit filed by DuPage County prosecutors to limit the activities of the street gang. The lawsuit, filed in October, is believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

The judge said prosecutors also failed to show that an injunction was needed to stop other gang-related actions that are illegal, including vandalism, drug sales and shootings.

“That conduct may be prosecuted criminally,” Darrah said in rejecting the request for a preliminary order banning some 20 types of gang activity.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett said he was “disappointed” by Darrah’s ruling and will appeal. He said an injunction would have been “a very powerful tool to suppress street gangs.”

The ruling essentially limits prosecutors to trying to collect financial damages from the gang to help cover the costs of anti-gang efforts conducted by police.

Despite the ruling, prosecutors may file similar lawsuits against other gangs operating in DuPage County, Birkett said.

Several alleged gang members named in the suit had little to say about the ruling, although one taunted police officers as he left the courthouse.

A defense attorney, however, praised Darrah’s decision.

“I think it’s a fair decision,” said defense attorney James Ryan, who represented three of the alleged gang members.

A sa gang crimes officer expressed disappointment at the judge’s ruling, saying there had been little gang activity in the city since the lawsuit was filed.

“They were keeping a low profile,” Sgt. Bruce Malkin said. “Now, who knows what’s going to happen.”

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