Special Needs Student Devastated After Being Accused of Putting Gang Sign in Contest-Winning Sticker
Herbert Pulgar was thrilled when the drawing he designed to honor Chicago's police, firefighters and first responders was voted best in an online contest, meaning the city would be making it into an official sticker.
But the fifteen-year old special needs student's joy turned to confusion and devastation when he was told his design -- which depicted outstretched hands and the city's skyline -- couldn't be used because it closely resembles gang signs used by the city's notorious Maniac Latin Disciples gang.
It's pretty much impossible to have watched that video and believe Pulgar is in any way affiliated with a gang. However, according to Susana Mendoza, the city clerk who made the decision to pull the sticker, that doesn't matter.
For me, as the clerk, it's not an issue of the individual at all, frankly," Mendoza said. "It's an issue of the perception that's now out in the city of Chicago and, frankly, nationally, that we have a city sticker that some experts believe may provide symbolism related to gangs."
You can see the Maniac Latin Disciples gang sign and Pulgar's design here. There is a resemblance, but it's not overwhelming.
Mendoza said she feels awful for Pulgar, and although his drawing has been made ineligible for the contest, she will pay Pulgar the $1,000 dollar prize out of her own pocket.
But that may not be enough for Pulgar, who now fears for his life.
"Now other gang members think that I’m a gang member, he explained. "And my life is in jeopardy.”
What do you think? Is the city being unfair to this kid over what might be a simple coincidence?