Chicago Clerk Scraps 15 Year Old Herbert Pulgar’s Winning Design Amid Gang Concerns
A Chicago clerk just scrapped 15-year-old Herbert Pulgar’s winning sticker design due to possible gang implications.
As an annual contest, Chicago high school students submit their design to hopefully win the honor of becoming the year’s official vehicle sticker. Since this year’s theme was “Chicago’s Heroes,” Pulgar decided to join as a tribute to the firefighters, police, and paramedics who saved his life when he was 4-years-old. As a special needs child who often got into trouble, he entered the contest as a way to show his mom that he could do well in school and turn his life around. Unfortunately, due to the reported allegations, his winning design was not only thrown away, but his initial intent was tainted with negativity. He tells reporters sadly, “Now other gang members think that I’m a gang member and my life is in jeopardy.”
City Clerk Susana Mendoza made the controversial decision with the backing of experts who believe that the design may be associated to a hand gesture used in Latino gangs. Specifically, the design which features four hands reaching out to symbolisms of the firefighters, police officers, and paramedics, may be indirectly associated to paying tribute to a street gang called the Maniac Latin Disciples (MLD).
A police blog specifically pointed out that the MLD gang commonly uses the heart and horns as their main emblems and the overall design, plus the hand gesture may be mistakenly associated to the gang. At a press conference, Pulgar’s art teacher quickly pointed out the design book used by the kids, specifically the page on hand designs which was never meant as a gang connotation.
Mendoza gave first place to the original second-place contestant, Caitlin Henehan. Pulgar unfortunately loses not only the honor of being the winning design, but he also loses the $1,000 savings bond that was going to be awarded to the winner. In a consolation to Pulgar, Mendoza told the public, “I feel terrible about what he’s going through and the media storm he’s had to deal with. While he has admittedly had problems in his youth, I do believe that he is trying to turn his life around. That is why I am going to give him a $1000 savings bond to use for his education coming from me personally.”