McMahon explained during a press conference at the Aurora Police Department headquarters Tuesday that the action is meant to diminish the gang's activities by inhibiting their ability to operate freely in the Aurora community.
"(The lawsuit) addresses behavior such as the sale, possession and use of weapons, marijuana and illicit narcotics, graffiti, violent behavior, and other criminal activity generally associated with street gangs," McMahon said.
A similar lawsuit against members of the Elgin Latin Kings was filed in September 2010. About half of the 81 Elgin gang members served with a court summons actually appeared in court according to McMahon. He said some gang members have "disappeared" and were never served with the lawsuit.
Similarly, only about half of the Aurora defendants have actually been served to date, but McMahon said his office continues to attempt to serve all 35.
Once served, the case goes forward in court if the defendants do not show up. Civil lawsuits such as these could result in a contempt of court penalty or the State's Attorney's office could pursue criminal charges for violating an injunction. Such an offense is a Class A Misdemeanor carrying up to one year in the county jail and a $2,500 fine.
McMahon said his office filed the lawsuit at the request of Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, who was also in attendance.
Weisner said the image of Aurora 16 years ago was that of a city of violence. In 1996, he said there were 26 homicides and 357 firearms discharges, compared with last year where only 60 shots were fired and there were two homicides.
Weisner stressed the importance of keeping these figures in context with population and crime preventing efforts.
"The population of Aurora is at least 60,000 people greater (now) than it was in 1996," Weisner said. "So we have a great reduction in crime while we have a great increase in population."
He attributed the success in fighting crime to targeting the violence the street gangs were responsible for and with the assistance of other agencies such as the Kane County State's Attorney's office, and agencies at the federal, state, and county levels. He also included the help of active citizens.
McMahon said the 35 targeted gang members "are some of the most violent and active in the street gang."
"Our goal is to get them to stop the activity, not only here in Aurora, but in any community in or outside of Kane County," McMahon said. "Do I want them to go to some other town? I want them to stop their gang activity. I want them to modify their behavior and at least become productive members of this community.
"But when they don't, and when they have a long history of engaging in criminal conduct, we're going to use every lawful tool that we have available to us to make their gang life and gang decisions differently."
Circuit Judge Thomas E. Mueller will hear the case at the old Kane County Courthouse in Geneva on July 10, 2012. Mug shots of the defendants can be viewed on the Kane County State's Attorney's website here and here.