There’s a been a big flap this week about the winning Chicago city sticker design. Every year the city allows kids to submit their artwork based upon some chosen theme. The city then narrows the submissions down, and the public votes on the finalists. The winning kid gets $1,000, and their artwork is put on the city sticker that every person with a vehicle registered in the city has to buy and place upon their car. It’s a feel good kind of thing. The winner gets their picture taken with the Mayor and everything.
This year was no different, except that after announcing the winning design, the city realized that it might have some gang symbols on it. Oops. This year's theme is "heros," and this is what the winning design looks like:
According to the argument, the upreaching hands are flashing a sign used by the Maniac Latin Disciples. Oh, and the heart is also a symbol used by the Latin Disciples.
The student who created the design, a 15 year old, has sworn up and down that there are no gang signs on this sticker. I really have no idea whether this is true, but the city has decided to pull his sticker (while still giving him the $1000) and use the second place finisher's design instead on the . Oh yeah, and Second City Cop stumbled upon some fascinating information, which hasn't caught any airtime on the mainstream Chicago media sites. The student's Facebook page (now taken down) had photographs of him flashing gang signs as recently as a month ago, and discussion threads mentioning gang life, drugs, and the Maniac Latin Disciples. Huh. Seems like the city might have a valid reason for questioning his motives.
Of course his mother showed up (who also has quite a Facebook page of her own), and gave the usual "he's turning his life around" and "he's a good boy" arguments that we always hear. And of course the family already has a lawyer and is threatening legal action against the city.
A lot of people are angry that this "poor child's" success has been taken away from him, and are calling for a petition to reinstate his sticker. I can say that I don't want this sticker on my car. I don't know the first thing aboug gang signs, but it looks awfully suspicious to me, the shape of those hands. It's not a natural hand sign I've seen anyone do. If the hands were truly reaching out to the hats, the natural shape would be much different. I can't link directly to the page for some reason, but NBC Chicago has a neat slideshow of the colors, hand signs, etc. of Chicago gangs. The Maniac Latin Disciples is at slide 33. Decide for yourself. It sure looks like a gang sign to me, and given the other information about this kid dredged up by Second City Cop, I'm willing to let another student have the glory.
So, this is what we get:
Ugh. I wish I could just get a plain city sticker that didn't have some kid's artwork all over it.