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Chicago City Clerk Investigating Whether Winning City Sticker Entry Contains Gang Symbolism

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 8, 2012 2:30PM

Herbert Pulgar, Freshman, Lawrence Hall Youth Services
Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza said her office will look into allegations that the winning entry in her office's city sticker design contest contains gang symbolism.

The winning entry was designed by Herbert Pulgar, a student at Lawrence Hall Youth Services on the North side. LHYS is a non-profit child welfare agency that provides services to at-risk youth. Pulgar's entry was chosen from over 18,000, and his story of being rescued by a firefighter at the age of four made for a heartwarming ribbon to be tied around the story.

Pulgar's winning entry shows police, firefighters and EMTs throwing their hats in the air from behind a heart decorated with the Chicago skyline and flag. The police blog "Detective Shaved Longcock" began analyzing Pulgar's artwork and claimed Pulgar may have included symbolism for the Maniac Latin Disciples in his sticker design, the first one to have Mayor Rahm Emanuel's name attached. "Longcock" determined the hands throwing hats in the air in Pulgar's sticker are also throwing the MLD pitchfork sign. He also wrote:

"Since submitting this new city sticker design... Little Herbert has had MANY 'police & juvenile section contacts' and is now a self admitted Maniac Latin Disciple...

"Look at his city sticker design. The HEART is the major MLD Gang Symbol. Look at the hands pointing up to the hats on that sticker... Look closely at the fingers and how they are being held...The 1st finger in front of the 2nd finger with the thumb extended back... It's the pitchfork sign. A normal drawing of the hand would not have each 1st finger extended past the 2nd finger. "

"Longcock" also trolled Pulgar's Facebook page (which has since taken down) and posted photos of Pulgar throwing gang signs, smoking blunts, and wearing a red bandana around his neck commonly associated with the MLD.

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, now president of the Chicago Crime Commission, said the hand positions look "very, very close" to resembling gang signs. "It's too close to be a coincidence," Weis told the Chicago Tribune. "Every finger configuration is identical."

Mendoza, in a statement, said her office is taking the claims seriously.

“Every artist has a back story and oftentimes artwork is controversial,” Mendoza said in a statement. “However, the artwork on Chicago’s city stickers should not be controversial.

"In a design that is meant to honor the city’s first responders, I am very sensitive to this issue. I grew up in a neighborhood filled with crime and gang violence and I come from a law-enforcement family."

The Maniac Latin Disciples are among the more violent street gangs in Chicago. Last summer, two MLD members were arrested for opening fire on a playground that was hosting a community policing meeting in the Avondale neighborhood on the North side. Two children were injured in that incident. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had his department crack down on the MLD in the wake of that shooting. “We’re going to obliterate that gang,” McCarthy said at the time. “Every one of their locations has to get blown up until they cease to exist.”