This is something that has rarely been seen in the Houston area. One instance was Haverstock Hills apartment complex on the north side when officials took steps in 2010 to stem the criminal activity in that area. Now they are hoping to keep a southwest side neighborhood safer.
At a news conference Friday morning, the county attorney discussed the southwest side neighborhood around west Belfort and Albury, saying it was a hotspot for criminal activity. He has listed 11 known gang members in a civil lawsuit, in addition to two businesses and their owners. The county attorney says those business owners are just not doing their jobs in keeping the area safe enough.
The suit has been filed against the 11 individuals who have been identified as known gang members for threatening the safety of the area, including Eleanor Tinsley school and a head start program nearby. The two businesses, I&A Food Mart and Albury Food Mart, are singled out because the county attorney says they're allowing crime.
"There's no place to," said Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan. "You've got the full weight of city and county government. We're going to stop this if we can, and hopefully when we have the hearing November 1 the judge will agree with us."
That is the threat of this civil lawsuit that these gang members are now in the process of being served. They need to show up in court or have representatives in court on November 1. At least half of them are already in jail.
We did pose the question and asked why they don't choose to go the traditional route and just file criminal charges against these individuals. The county attorney says this is a little different in that it provides a safety zone, that even if they were to go to jail and bond out, the judge's decree would still create an area that they couldn't go and participate in threatening activities.
Officials will be asking for the injunction in the court hearing on November 1. It will be up to the judge to decide if it will be granted.