Monday, June 24, 2024

District Attorney, law enforcement, take ‘first step’ using civil nuisance lawsuits against gangs

From left: Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous and District Attorney Ben David. (Port City Daily photo / FILE)

WILMINGTON — Local and regional law enforcement are attempting to use a civil injunction to combat gang activity in the Creekwood and Long Leaf Park areas.

Superior Court Judge Imelda Pata approved a preliminary injunction against members of gang known as the Folk Nation 720 Gangster Disciples. The injunction was filed by District Attorney Ben David, along with the Wilmington Police Department and City Attorney’s Office, and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. The injunction names 24 known members of the gang as defendants, and prohibits them from “congregating in public places.”

According to David, the injunction is a civil nuisance abatement case brought by David against regional gang activity.

“This injunction will ban the gang members named in this lawsuit from associating with each another in their primary areas of operation and in the entire City of Wilmington,” David said.

In an interview conducted earlier in the year, David described injunctions and civil nuisance abatement cases as “outside the box approaches to problems that have frustrated more traditional efforts” to curb gang violence.

“Ultimately, we could bring nuisance cases — as we have with the motels along the Market Street corridor where law enforcement struggled to curb opioid sales and human trafficking. These cases would allow us to enforce injunctions against any two validated gang members. They only need to be congregating in public. We don’t have to wait for violent crimes to be perpetrated,” David said at the time.

The injunction against the Folk Nation cites the gang’s “long history of engaging in illegal drug trade and perpetrating violent crimes.” According to the injunction, the gangs main theaters of illegal activity are the Creekwood and Long Leaf Park areas of Wilmington. According to the city’s police department, dispatch receives “frequent complaints of gunfire, fights involving large numbers of people, and assaults in these gang areas.”

According to Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous, ”law abiding neighbors who live in Creekwood and Long Leaf Park and the other neighborhoods where these gang members hang out say violence in the neighborhoods force them to essentially be barricaded in their own homes. They don’t feel safe, and they shouldn’t have to live in that environment.”

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office also noted that “the effects of (the Folk Nation’s) criminal gang activities spill out through the entire county.”

Sheriff Ed McMahon described the idea of a nuisance case as “a powerful tool that local communities can use to stop criminal activity for good.”

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