That’s exactly what happened in the case of a 15 year-old boy who entered his design in a sticker competition and won first place, which meant that it would have ended up on cars citywide. It also included a $1,000 prize.
The teen in question, Herbie Pulgar, who attends an alternative school for children with emotional and learning disabilities, says his intention was never to hide gang signs in his art.
Jody Weis, a former police superintendent and current president of the Chicago Crime Commission disagrees, claiming it has too many things in common with the large local Hispanic gang, the Maniac Latin Disciples.
“If you look a little bit back – imagine yourself 10 feet away from this – you’ve got a couple of hands in a position that could be viewed as horns. That’s another symbol of this particular gang.”
“When you add the heart symbol, you add the hand signs, you add the hand placements – you can see where there might be a perception that this could be in some way reflecting on a particular gang.”
The drwaing shows the city’s skyline, a blue and white backdrop within a heart with multi-ethnic hands (representing firefighters, paramedics and police officers, firefighters and paramedics) reaching upwards. Weis even says that even the heart is a gang symbol.