Judge will decide on gang injunction in East Lake

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – After listening to testimony during a trial, a judge will decide whether a temporary gang injunction in East Lake will be permanent.

Prosecutors say because of the temporary injunction criminal activity in the area has dropped.

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Defense attorneys say crime could be down in Chattanooga as a whole and the injunction night have nothing to do with it.

In 2016, a temporary injunction was granted to create the East Lake safety zone. It prevents dozens of people, who are part of the Gangster Disciples and Grape Street Crips, from interacting with each other or participating in criminal activity along 4th Avenue.

On Tuesday during a trial, Judge Barry Steelman listened to evidence on whether or not the gang injunction should be permanent.

Sergeant Curtis Penney, with the Chattanooga Police Department, testified about the crime in East Lake.

He says in 2016 there were three homicides and in 2017, after the temporary injunction, there were none.

Robbery was down 74 percent and shots fired was down 56 percent.

Defense attorneys say crime could be down in general and the injunction might not have anything to do with it.

They say statistics for the city as a whole were not brought up.

“Has anyone actually been arrested under this injunction?” asked Chrissy Mincy, a defense attorney.

“They have not,” Sergeant Penney said.

Mincy wanted the case to be dismissed.

“The nexus that they have created under the proof, I believe is insufficient in meeting the statute. Further more we have absolutely no criminal convictions that have been submitted into,” Mincy said.

“There has not been a situation where they can arrest someone for violating the courts order. Just because that hasn’t occurred doesn’t mean they are not willing to enforce it,” said Neal Pinkston, the Hamilton County District Attorney.

Felix Vess, the Chief of Police for the Chattanooga Housing Authority, says because of the temporary injunction there’s a better quality of life in the community.

“You see the changes that are happening. Less people are hanging out on fourth avenue and you see more kids and children playing in the area and enjoying the reduction of the criminal activity,” Vess said.

Judge Steelman decided that some people who were previously subjected to the temporary injunction will not be anymore.

Judge Steelman will make a decision on whether the injunction will be permanent by July 30.