Aurora, Kane County prosecutors sue 35 Latin Kings
By Matt Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2012 4:42PM
Eric J. Amwoza
Kane County prosecutors announced Tuesday that the city of Aurora has filed civil lawsuits against 35 members of the Latin Kings, seeking financial restitution for the damages they have caused in the city.
“Our goal is to get them to stop their activity,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.
McMahon said the suits target “the worst of the worst” from the Latin Kings in Aurora. Late last week, Kane County Sheriff’s deputies began serving the notice of the lawsuits to admitted or suspected members of the Aurora Latin Kings. This is the first time Aurora has targeted gangs with civil suits.
McMahon said about half of the 35 gang members have been served with injunction papers by Tuesday and police are looking for the remaining men.
The suit is similar to one filed in 2010 against 81 men believed to be members of the Elgin Latin Kings. Both actions use a 1993 state law that authorizes officials to seek financial damages for the violence and property damage caused by gangs.
McMahon’s office seeks an injunction to prohibit defendants from engaging in any acts considered to be “gang-related,” which include gathering and loitering in public with other known gang members, displaying gang signs, shouting gang slogans, recruiting new members and violating curfew. If the injunction is granted, any time two gang members mentioned in the lawsuit are seen in public together, they can be arrested and charged with the misdemeanor offense of unlawful contact with a known street gang member. At the time of an arrest, they could also be searched for illegal drugs or weapons.
The 2010 Elgin lawsuits were considered a test of whether a street gang can be brought down by using the civil courts. Then-Kane County state’s attorney John Barsanti promised if the action worked, he would file similar lawsuits against other gangs. Barsanti is now a judge.
The Elgin lawsuits faced criticism from some of the defendants, who claimed they were no longer gang members. The defendants were identified using police databases of known or suspected gang members who had been involved in illegal activities between 1998 and 2008.