Seek to ban gang merchandise

Two Queens councilmembers are outraged at what they call the “blatant merchandising of notorious symbols, colors and lifestyle of street gangs.”
Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone announced they would hold a joint hearing regarding the issue on Thursday, December 13 with the Consumer Affairs and Public Safety Committees, which they chair respectively.
“With our city about to embark upon the holiday shopping season, I wanted to take the opportunity to bring this issue to the public’s attention,” said Comrie. “My office has conducted an investigation that has revealed the sale of gang-related apparel in New York City is thriving and parents should be wary of what they purchase for their teenage children this year.”
He continued, “It is no wonder street gangs are on the rise - we live in a culture that blatantly glorifies street gangs in the name of profit.”
Comrie noted that several months ago, news reports revealed that the Buffalo-based New Era Cap Company was marketing and selling Major League Baseball-licensed New York Yankee baseball caps imprinted with bandanas meant to appeal to urban youth consumers.
The colors of the bandanas were red, blue and brown - colors that are normally affiliated with the notorious Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings gangs.
In response to the media attention and public criticism, New Era and
Major League Baseball issued statements that there would be a national recall of these caps.
However, in a survey conducted by Comrie’s office, it was revealed that the accessories are still available for sale in several communities throughout the city.
“[Businesses] are knowingly selling this garbage and contributing to the dangerous culture of gangs in poor neighborhoods,” said the councilmember.
“I’m even further outraged that Major League Baseball is in business with a company like New Era and would allow their logo to be imprinted on the back of these caps. Each team and each player receives a portion of the sales of these caps - another example of a morally-corrupt business lining the pockets of morally-corrupt owners and athletes.”
While New Era had claimed to be unaware of any gang associations in the marketing of these caps, research revealed that the company encountered a similar incident in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this year when they marketed and sold baseball caps imprinted with the monikers of local gangs in that city.
Again, when confronted by community outrage, the company promised they would remove the caps and do a better job of marketing research.
During the course of his investigation, Comrie also discovered that local businesses were selling a new brand of gang-related apparel called “AKA Stash House.”
The clothing line features slogans such as “Soldier for Life,” “Deal or Die” and “Respect the Shooter,” while accompanied by pictures of guns and gang colors.
In response to the investigation, the Dr. Jay’s retail chain officially removed the availability of the gang-related AKA Stash House merchandise from its web site and announced that the controversial clothing line will not be available at any of the stores.

More from Around New York