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Continued: St. Paul officials and residents concerned about East Side crime

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 15, 2013 - 12:23 AM

Last month, a 17-year-old pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Vince “Mo” Allison, also 17, after a street fight near Payne and Case Avenues that stemmed from a feud between the Ham Crazy and Gutta Block gangs.

On Tuesday night, the gangs, which police characterize as unevenly organized and formed by younger members, clashed again. A few people were arrested before the dispute turned violent.

Police found the rest of the night fairly uneventful, but that didn’t remove the threat of a quick eruption. Swarms of youths, sometimes ranging in number from 40 to 50, have been known to pop up blocking streets and sometimes fighting among themselves before dispersing as quickly as they had gathered.

Seeking zero tolerance

City Council Member Dan Bostrom, who represents the ward where the incidents took place, said police need to practice a zero-tolerance policy with disruptive youths, and that city and county attorneys need to make sure they are prosecuted. Crime issues can spread from one neighborhood to the next, he said.

“When people know that they aren’t going to get by with the small stuff, they aren’t going to try the big stuff,” Bostrom said.

Leslie McMurray, executive director of the Payne Phalen District Five Planning Council, called the incidents “terrible” and “repugnant” and said there was no simple answer to how to stop the violence.

But she added that there aren’t enough constructive activities targeting older teens in the area, especially the males. About one-third of neighborhood residents are youths, she said.

“It is a wake-up call when something like this happens for us to say, what can we do for young people in this area,” McMurray said.

St. Paul police are pushing for ways to respond to the violence. Extra patrols have been added in the area, and police recently were awarded a grant to buy portable camera technology. Resources also are being reallocated from other districts, said Eastern District Senior Cmdr. Joe Neuberger, who declined to be more specific.

“Now, we’re doing some of the full-court press,” he said.

Staff writer Kevin Duchschere contributed to this report.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-710-5367

Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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