NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s a step to try and reduce gang activity in the area. A judge granted a preliminary injunction against nearly two dozen alleged gang members. One by one, alleged members of the Folk Nation 720 Gangster Disciples, came into the courtroom.
Today, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David asked for a preliminary injunction against alleged members of the Folk Nation 720 Gangster Disciples. One thing the injunction does is stop the men from associating with each other. The DA’s office says it’s an effort to curb illegal activities. But, not everyone agrees.
“If we look at this thing and there is no criminal activity here, like if there is no criminal charges being filed against and this is just a civil matter, let’s do the civil thing and the civil thing is let’s get them the resources that they need to be successful,” Vance Williams, Advanced Youth Outreach Executive Director, said.
On November 6, the district attorney, in conjunction with the Wilmington Police Department, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wilmington City Attorney’s Office, filed a civil nuisance abatement action against the gang and 24 of its members.
Williams believes this will hurt the black community more than it will help.
“I don’t see it being beneficial towards the community. I don’t see that this is a way to keep the community safe. The way you keep a community safe is you enhance the lives of the people that live in the community,” Williams said.
They were named as defendants and were served with the lawsuit giving them notice of today’s hearing for the preliminary injunction, which prohibits them from congregating in public places in an effort to curb illegal activities.
The DA’s office hopes it will cut down on crime in neighborhoods like the Creekwood and Long Leaf communities, by getting gangs out of those neighborhoods. If the men violate the terms of the injunction, they could face a fine or even jail time.
There are some exceptions. The 24 men can be together at school, work, church, at counseling or if they are immediate relatives.
This action is the first step in a civil nuisance abatement case brought by DA Ben David on behalf of the State of North Carolina.
“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,” said David. “Gangs like this one have become a blight on our communities, and this is simply one more way that we are trying to work together to alleviate the nuisance that they cause.”
“We have been working with the District Attorney to put together and file this lawsuit in an effort to be responsive to citizen concerns,” said 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.”
According to a news release, members of the Folk Nation 720 Gangster Disciples have a long history of engaging in the illegal drug trade and perpetrating violent crimes.
The Wilmington Police Department frequently receives complaints of gunfire, fights involving large numbers of people, and assaults in these gang areas.
The NHSO also receives complaints on many of the same people as the effects of their criminal gang activities spill out through the entire county.
“The nuisance abatement law provides a powerful tool that local communities can use to stop criminal activity for good,” said Sheriff Ed McMahon. “There is no reason for a gang to terrorize a community. We are trying to be responsive to neighbors’ concerns and are working together to get a successful and permanent resolution for the community,” stated Sheriff McMahon.
In court, nearly a dozen of the defendants served appeared. They argued this injunction violates constitutional rights.