FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying something new to combat gangs: They're suing them.
Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members. The cities are asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.
The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members. In some cases, they don't allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.
Last summer, Wichita Falls sued 15 members of the Varrio Carnales gang after escalating violence with a rival gang. Since then, crime has dropped about 13 percent in the safety zone and real estate values are climbing.
Fort Worth sued 10 members of the Northcide Four Trey Gangsta Crips in May after two gang members were killed in escalating violence.
But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.