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Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston
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East Lake gang injunction

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What is a 'validated' gang member?

Police use a standardized point system to evaluate whether a person is a validated gang member, awarding points for various indicators of gang membership, like gang tattoos, throwing gang signs in photos on social media, and self-profession of gang membership. Validated gang members tally more points than known associates.

About 45 validated gang members may soon be prohibited from specific activities in a public safety zone that authorities have mapped out in East Lake. 

At a press conference this morning, Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston announced his plan to enforce a civil injunction on two prominent gangs — the Gangster Disciples and Grape Street Crips — alongside several law enforcement partners. 

An injunction is an order from judge. And in this case, it's asking to prohibit the gang members from doing 10 or 12 activities, most of which are already illegal, Pinkston said. 

Otherwise, law enforcement can approach them, arrest them, and levy a possible 30-day jail sentence and fine on them. 

Pinkston said the petition is "narrowly tailored" to avoid any civil rights infringements, which opponents expressed concerns about in July, when Pinkston announced the plan. 

The petition, which the county district attorney's office filed this morning in Hamilton County Criminal Court, will go before Judge Barry Steelman next Monday at 1:30 p.m., Pinkston said. 

After reviewing the evidence and listening to any witnesses, Steelman will then decide whether to approve the injunction. 

If he does, it would become a permanent tool in law enforcement's approach to violent crime in Chattanooga, and authorities could ask to add more members of the same gang to the injunction, Pinkston said. 

If authorities wanted to target a different gang, they would have to repeat the process over again, he said. 

This is a breaking story. Check back later for more developments.

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