Appeals court deems lawsuits filed against gang members

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - An appeals court ruling is upholding a statute that allows the city of Wichita Falls to file lawsuits against gang members -- a tactic aimed at disrupting gang activity before it escalates.

The 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ruled this week that Wichita Falls' injunction, similar to those created in cities nationwide, is constitutional.

The gang prosecutor for Wichita Falls and Wichita County, Robert Massey, says the ruling is a big deal.

He says he planned to notify other cities in Texas that have such injunctions because this was the first appeal and court ruling on the matter in the state.

The civil injunctions bar gang members from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

In some cases, they don't allow members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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