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Op-Ed Thu Feb 09 2012

Deeper Questions on the City Sticker Controversy

by Bob Quellos

City Clerk Susana Mendoza withdrew 15-year-old Herbie Pulgar's entry into the annual contest to design Chicago's city sticker yesterday after fears that the sticker design contained gang affiliated symbols and threats to the Chicago Police Department. This action and the controversy surrounding Pulgar's design leaves me with some questions and thoughts:

First, Jody Weis is still in Chicago? After a not so glamorous stint as head of the CPD, it seemed like Jody Weis had finally been run out of town. Apparently not. Perhaps Weis put himself forward as head interpreter of the city sticker as a way of letting us know he's still in Chicago where he's been working hard to put together a coloring book about Chicagoland gangs for the Chicago Crime Commission.

How many paranoid conspiracy theorists reside in Chicago's government? Let us pretend for a minute that the winning entry actually has subliminal gang messaging. The string of events that would have occurred to pull this stunt off would look something like this:

Some gang leaders come up with a plan to use one of the gang's members to enter a piece of artwork with subliminal messaging directed at the CPD into the city sticker contest. The artwork on the submission would then be crafted so meticulously that the piece of art actually looks like a 15-year-old who was once saved by a firefighter created it. And the subliminal messaging directed at the CPD would be so well hidden that it doesn't draw anyone's attention. So well hidden in fact that it would require gang experts to decipher the hidden message. The artwork would then be selected as a finalist from 300 total entries. And then finally, the artwork would take first place in a public vote that included over 18,000 participants.

Convinced? Or does that seem like one too many hoops to jump through just to send the CPD a message?

So if the CPD and those at the City Clerk's office are this paranoid about possible gang ties on a city sticker, how does this paranoia translate elsewhere? In other words, if the CPD sees a city sticker as a threat, how does that same police force see the average black or Latino teenage walking in a neighborhood?

Didn't this all start on a blog run by a Chicago cop? It seems to. But you're not going to hear that mentioned by the City Clerk's office because the blog this story originated on is called "Detective Shaved Longcock." Some other blog entries at DSL include "Mayor Emanuel now 'IFFY' about South Side Irish Parade... But Rahm wouldn't have the balls to cancel the Bud Biliken or Gay Fruitcake Parade" and, "Can Chicago ever get a police superintendent that doesn't kiss the asses of inner city blacks?" Why is the City Clerk's office taking their lead from this blog?

Second City Cop (another Chicago police blog) has posted screen captures of 15-year-old Herbie Pulgar's Facebook chats. A quote on this matter from Second City Cop states, "Tell us this kid isn't banging and we'll tell you you're delusional." That's right, the CPD may be deciding which teenagers they believe are guilty of gang activity by perusing their Facebook pages and then rendering their decision via a blog. Does this trouble anyone else?

And lastly. Do Susana Mendoza and Jody Weis also believe that Claddagh rings are gang affiliated? If we use the City Clerk's criteria they seem suspicious. Perhaps this requires an investigation. Jody?

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Chicago Observer / February 9, 2012 5:04 PM

This kid very well may be a gangbanger, or he may be a kid who emulates the tough guys on the block -- in this case they would be gangbangers. Either way, you know how kids get into gangbaning? The adults in their lives have not allowed them to be kids. Either their family is involved in gangs, or there is a hole in their family that they seek elsewhere. Herbie right now has been let down by some very powerful adults. The adults he is supposed to look up to: elected officials, police, members of the media. These adults took something away from him for which he should have been very proud. Then they labeled him a thug and plastered it all over the city. Imagine how he feels. Don't be shocked if this incident leads to him losing faith in a life on the straight and narrow.

Shawn / February 9, 2012 5:08 PM

Ok. So lil Herbie smoking on his fb site and throwing up gang signs is purely coincidence? And the fact his dad is a wanted criminal? Like father like son. Go take your bleeding heart elsewhere.

Artist / February 9, 2012 7:23 PM

Where is the petition to have this child's art reinstated?
People have become way too paranoid.
My heart breaks for this child.
I repeat, child.

Chicago / February 9, 2012 8:44 PM

And the fact the allegations were brought on by blogs that have been noted as being highly racist and homophobic, and claimed to be run and visited by Chicago cops--truly a bigger embarrassment to the CPD and Chicago itself--makes me irk even more. It puts into question the idea of community that that department and city government are constantly talking about. And it makes you question the type of public servants that are trusted in helping out all of Chicago's communities and especially minors.

Not Really / February 9, 2012 8:50 PM

Actually, no. All of those hoops would not be needed. No one is claiming that a gang set out to do this. What is being said is that a 15-year-old with at least one gang tat who posts things like "lkk" (Latin King Killer) and Dlove (Disciple love) repeated on his FB page along with admissions to being a pot dealer decided to create this design. That's not a very big leap of logic. Also, I would like all gang bangers, dealers, thieves, and murderers to post as many compromising photos as possible on their publicly-accessible FB pages. And I'd like to have the police follow up on what they see.

Raymond / February 9, 2012 9:23 PM

The Gay Fruitcake Parade?!!! Now, now, there's no need for that.

PJ / February 9, 2012 9:41 PM

He is a troubled CHILD. How dare you compare him to his father. You never did anything wrong as a CHILD? If perfect cast the stone. God help you S.

Sethinthebox / February 9, 2012 10:26 PM

Hey Shawn, you sure those are gang symbols? You know the difference? It's clear you have no idea what life is like for kids like this and prefer to use your $.02 to put people down. This kid hardly deserved to be treated this shabbily. Having mentored kids like Herbie, one of the first things I learned is you don't have to join a gang to be forced into that world and reflect it. At the same time, his picture (posted here: is pretty innocent. This is a remarkably rediculous story.

No Doubt / February 10, 2012 12:00 AM

OK. Let's say Herbie didn't include any gang symbols in his design. There is an explicit gang tattoo on his shoulder and, oh, yeah, he admitted gang membership to cops during a "brush with the law" late last year. As recently as a month ago, he was posting MLD-loving crap on his FB page.

I dont want MY police being "honored" by a gangbanger. Period.

Linda / February 10, 2012 12:26 AM

How devistating for this young man - how crushed he must be ......CHICAGO....lets make this up to him...Sports Authority, SEARS, Macys, Game Stop, Best Buy...shower him with gifts!!!!!!!!! Someone have Sky box tickets to a Bulls game or Blackhawks game for this young man and his Mom? Lets show him that the majority of Chicago residents do care!!!XOXO

Shawn / February 10, 2012 11:36 AM

To: Artist, Chicago, PJ, Seth, and Linda...


(Scroll down to "MORE EVIDENCE" story)

Then slap yourselves for being so naive. And if a Klansman told you "the sky is blue", would you immediately discredit him because he is racist? It doesn't matter who brought this to light, what matters is that it was true.

Chicago / February 10, 2012 4:13 PM

Shawn, the matter is not true as was pointed out by the kid and the art teacher who helped him with the design. What those blogs show are illegally obtained and assumed pictures of a minor (reason why the media didn't publish them & even then blurred faces) and comments that don't pledge allegiance to a gang but rather show the stupidity of so many teenagers. There are allegations that originated from the two blogs of him having a tattoo with gang symbolism, neither blog has picture evidence of that, why? I thought screenshots were taken. And that his record is marred with controversy and open to the public? A minor? How and why are people illegally looking into a person's record and then boosting about it but not publishing it?

It very much matters who brought this to light, because it raises the questions of intentions of the people who regularly post on such sites. The level of inaccurate and biased reporting. Is it to keep the city safer? To save money? As far as I can tell, this city is no safer & probably ended up losing more. You can continue to walk in your privileged and naive world as race-blind and ignoring the blatant racism and obvious assumptions made by "Chicago's Finest." It might be a joke to you when people point out such things, but if it anything this has only re-enforced the idea that many communities have already known.

That you have a bunch of racist, homophobic, and obviously corrupt cops walking the streets of Chicago wondering why a neighborhood stays silent and doesn't cooperate. To me, just as disgusting and criminal as a gang with pretty colors. And two, that when a person and especially CHILD in the United States of America tries to turn his life around and speaks of good intentional dreams is immediately shot down by a bunch of idiots with Napoleon Syndrome on the anonymous web.

Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Shawn / February 10, 2012 5:53 PM


The pictures came from his own site. He didn't have a pic of his tat, that's why there isn't one to show. He braided his own rope that was used to hang him! If the only evidence was the design in question I may have sided with you. But the pictures, the self admitted gang ties, the text conversation, the criminal record... C'mon now...

Tyler Davis / February 13, 2012 2:17 AM

The five pointed star is a Gangster Disciple symbol. We oughta remove it from the city flag...

Shawn / February 14, 2012 2:48 PM

There are no five pointed stars on the Chicago flag, dummy.

Cynthia / February 16, 2012 8:22 AM

The author's conspiracy suggestion is silly. If indeed the artist's work was gang-related, then he was representing, plain and simple. Sympathy for the artist ignores the daily heartbreak and havoc that gangs perpetrate in Chicago. Allegations of cop corruption are illogical and biased. (which is not surprising, since everyone loves to hate the police.) If anyone has "victimized" the artist, it's his own dad. A grown man posting gangbanger photos of himself with guns on Facebook? Please. Facebook is a public forum. Walk for a day or two in the shoes of a Chicago gang tactical officer and the posts on SCC and Shaved might not seem so cynical and "racist."

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