What Your Child Wears Is Important — And I’m Not Talking About Pink

photo by Phillip Pessar

Tom Brechlin wants to give a personal public service announcement to parents no matter what city they live in.

How many of you have seen kids with their cool baseball caps, wearing them in a variety of directions? How many of you have seen your own kids or their friends posing with the crooked caps, sagging pants and hoodys, making what appears to be non-descript finger configurations? How many of you simply excused such looks as a “trend in style?” No big deal, right?

Except an article in the Chicago Tribune explains why it could be important “Prosecutor: Man killed because of the way he wore his hat”

Oh yeah, that’s Chicago, right? Everyone knows they have a gang problem. Let’s read what it says.

Jose M., 18, of the 600 block of Deepwoods, Mundelein, and Jose G., 24, of the 500 block of N. Carol Lane, Round Lake Park, thought that the tilt of Gabriel Gonzales’ hat indicated that he was a member of a rival gang, said Lake County Assistant State’s Atty. Ken LaRue. Gonzales was leaving the One Stop Food and Liquor store, at 1015 Fairfield Road at about 12:45 a.m., when Jose M. and Jose G. followed him outside and began flashing gang signs, LaRue said. Gonzales turned to run away and Garcia shot at him ten times, hitting him once in the back, LaRue said.

I should note that, first, that Gabriel was NOT a gang member. And Round Lake is a far northwest suburb of Chicago. A good 20+ miles outside the gang ridden Lawndale (Little Village) neighborhood in Chiacgo.

There are over 140 Chicago suburbs that have no less then 3 known active gangs in their communities. A quick example would be Naperville. Naperville was voted the second-best place to live in the United States by Money magazine in 2006. In a 2010 study, Naperville was named the wealthiest city in the Midwest and eleventh in the nation with a population over 75,000. Mmmmm, They have gangs? Yup! Latin Counts, Sin City Boys, Surenos 13, Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples and Satan Disciples.

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So why am I writing this? It happens that one of the alleged shooters is someone who was a client on my unit 3 years ago. What came to mind when I read the article was the many times I’ve read responses to various articles here at GMP. Responses from the “cool” people who look at various behaviors and say it’s no big deal. But the reality is that, for some people, it IS a big deal.

Yeah, I guess it’s a big deal that some women wants to dress her small son in pink, or that a mayor wants to limit the size of soft drinks. But here is the deal, while many of us live in the comfort of our homes, there is a big bad world out there, one that many have turned a blind eye. When one of the wealthiest communities in the country has not one but six active gangs, ya have to take a close look at what’s going on.

People used to call me “over-protective” and that my kids would some day rebel because I had close tabs on who they were with, where they were and what they did. In my book, there is no such thing as being over-protective. That was my job as a dad and as hard as it was, I don’t regret any of it.

Did you ever wonder what the gang colors and symbols are? Of course, not everyone wearing the colors of their favorite sports team are going to be shot. But it’s worth taking note of the following. And parents who thinks it’s funny, cute, cool to see their kids gesturing with their hands, cocking their hats and something wearing something as simple as a hat with symbols — just look twice to make sure. In order to stop it, you need to see it.

Georgetown Hoyas
Gang: Gangster Disciples in Chicago. Gangster Disciples use the word Hoyas as an acronym, “Hoover’s On Your A–.”

Los Angeles Dodgers
Gang: The Crips in Los Angeles. The gang is associated with the color blue.

Los Angeles Kings
Gang: Latin Kings in New York. The notorious latin gang shares the same name as the NHL team.

Philadelphia Phillies
Gang: The Bloods in L.A. The “P” in Phillies stands for Piru ( a set in the Bloods’ gang). The colors are also  the same.

Chicago Bulls
Gang: Vice Lords in Chicago. The gang’s colors are the same as the Bulls.

Oakland Raiders
Gang: Folk Nation in Chicago. The gang uses Raiders as an acronym, “Ruthless A– Insane Disciples Running Sh–.”

Houston Astros
Gang: The Bloods in L.A.and Folk Nation in Chicago. The Bloods use it strictly for color and the folks see the symbol as a logo similar to their five-point star.

Cincinnati Reds
Gang: The Bloods associate it with the color red.

Detroit Tigers
Gang: Gangster Disciples in Chicago. The letter “D” stands for Disciple.

Oakland A’s
Gang: Almighty Ambrose Nation in Chicago.

It may be a style to you and perhaps it’s that simple for your kids but as Gabriel found out, for some, it’s serious business. Just like we know as parents to look for the signs of drug use, it’s important to understand the signs of gangs.

Photo by Phillip Pessar / Flickr

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About Tom Brechlin

Devoted Catholic, married 39 years, two grown kids and TWO super cool grandson. Former corporate executive that left that world and has since spent the last 15 years working with adolescent males in a residential treatment center. Has 1 dogs, a Golden (recently lost him to cencer) and something related to a swamp rat, 2 cats, and a parrot named Paco.

Comments

  1. White people need not apply… White people, thanks to their privilege, will never be mistaken for a Blood by wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey.

    Seriously? Dude, way to write a shitty article full of scary anecdotes and appealing to the fear every parent has that something might happen to their child. You’re just as bad as Fox News.

    What white parents need to do is teach their kids about privilege and teach them not to appropriate (you can just call it stealing) things from other cultures. Teach them that not everything they see is theirs to imitate and maybe then your kid won’t go around like a dumbass throwing up signs they have no clue as to what it means.

  2. Actually, the Huston Astros logo is a broken 5 pont star which is why the Dallas Cowboys logo is preferred. Also the Duke logo is preferred over the Detroit “D” because it matches the Gangster Disiples colors and has accompanying Blue Devil imagry.
    This article amounts to fear mongering, “watch what your kids wear or the big, scary, irrational, biolence prone gang banger will kill them over it. YES even in Naperville!” Like the previous commenter said, this is not unlike what you’d see on Fox News. This also perpetuates the idea that most youth violence is gang related, this oversimplifies the problem.
    A better article might have discussed how to look out for changes in behavior in your child (more frequent angry flare ups, increased intensity when dealing with confrontation, spikes in aggression, etc.) things that might be idicators that something is awry, and tips on distinguishing overly aggresive and potentially dangerous behavior with that of a rebellious teen looking for independence.

  3. LOL, it’s an FYI. Take it or leave it, it’s your choice. And BTW, it’s sad that you label minorities as the only ones that have gangs. I work with gang members virtually every day of the week and can tell you that the “Kings” have more then just Hispanics.

    It goes beyond simply wearing clothes … it has to do with respect. ANYONE can potentially disrespect a gang by a hand gesture, something written. And that’s all it would take is some kid, that has no clue, disrespecting a gang with a hand gesture.

    And I totally agree with “What white parents need to do is teach their kids about privilege and teach them not to appropriate (you can just call it stealing) things from other cultures. Teach them that not everything they see is theirs to imitate and maybe then your kid won’t go around like a dumbass throwing up signs they have no clue as to what it means.” BUT wouldn’t limit it to “white” people.

    Wearing opposing colors in a known (fill in the blank gang) neighborhood, could cause a problem.

    40+ years ago, I grew up with Latin Kings, Ridgeway Lords to be more specific, and even back then, the Kings were not limited to Mexican’s. There were “white boys” who were recruited into the Kings.

    My writing this wasn’t to scare anyone but simply make those, who are oblivious as to what’s happening, pay attention.

  4. Man – what can I say? All this sounds like tales from some post-apocalyptic, dystopian science-fiction series. Scary.

    • Lars, it is scary but it doesn’t by any means appear to be the “end times.” Bad shit has been around since the beginning of time.

  5. Thanks for your comments Tony. I would like to address a couple of things. You said “Like the previous commenter said, this is not unlike what you’d see on Fox News. This also perpetuates the idea that most youth violence is gang related, this oversimplifies the problem.” Nowhere did I mention “youth violence” much less indicating that “most” youth violence is gang related. The gentlemen that were mentioned were all adults.

    I don’t see where it perpetuates anything. It’s no more then an “FYI.” Parents need to be aware of what’s happening. Take it or leave it. I come across countless clueless parents and it bothers me that so many parents are unaware of what their kids are doing.

    Upon intake, we interview the family, generally parent(s) or legal guardians. We also do what’s called a biopsychosocial on the client. A good 50% of the guardians have no clue as to what their son is involved in. Do you belong to a gang? The guardian says no, the client says yes. Often times the clients will say that they are not in a gang but only associate with gang members. Later, after he’s tagged his dorm room and/or had an altercation with a peer, the truth comes out.
    You said “A better article might have discussed how to look out for changes in behavior in your child (more frequent angry flare ups, increased intensity when dealing with confrontation, spikes in aggression, etc.) things that might be idicators that something is awry, and tips on distinguishing overly aggresive and potentially dangerous behavior with that of a rebellious teen looking for independence.” Better article or an accompanying article, you’re right, we should delve more into this and couple it adolescent vulnerability

  6. Randy Strauss says:

    @James Since white people don’t have a clue, steal from other cultures and imitate things we don’t understand due to the blindness of our privileged lifestyle, perhaps you’d care to enlighten us on proper behavior so we don’t get shot in the back while buying Jack Links and Red Bull at the local. Please enlighten me.

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