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MLB caps linked to gang symbols pulled from store shelves

8/25/2007 - MLB New York Yankees

NEW YORK -- A lineup of team logo baseball caps denounced as
tailor-made for gang members was ordered removed from store shelves
by its manufacturer Friday after complaints from baseball
officials.

"It has been brought to our attention that some combinations of
icons and colors on a select number of our caps could be too
closely perceived to be in association with gangs," said
Christopher H. Koch, CEO of New Era Cap. "In response, we, along
with Major League Baseball, have pulled those caps."

The three styles in question used colors and symbols linked to
three gangs: an all-white cap with a blue bandanna, the trademark
of the notorious Crips; an all-white cap with a red bandanna worn
by the rival Bloods; and a black cap with a gold team logo and an
embroidered crown, a symbol favored by the Latin Kings.

"We encouraged and now fully support the decision of cap
manufacturer New Era to pull these caps and any others that feature
offensive or concerning symbols," read an MLB statement.

The New York Yankees had joined an anti-gang group, Peace on the
Street, in denouncing the hats.

Both MLB and the Yankees insisted they were unaware of the
symbolism in the cap designs, with the New York team noting they
were never given a chance to review the new hats until they were
already for sale.

The team was "completely unaware that caps with gang-related
logos and colors had been manufactured with the New York Yankees
logo on them," said a Yankees statement. "The New York Yankees
oppose any garment that may be associated with gangs or
gang-related activity."

On Thursday, protesters demonstrated about the new caps outside
several Manhattan stores carrying the merchandise. The stores were
selling a version of the hats bearing the familiar interlocking
"NY" logo of the Yankees.

Richard Garcia, a karate instructor who works with Peace on the
Street to provide youngsters with alternatives to gangs, said he
immediately recognized the hats' colors from his work with former
gang members.

"My fear was that the wrong kid was going to wear the wrong hat
in the wrong neighborhood and get hurt," he said.

New Era said it would increase its efforts to ensure it had a
better working knowledge of gang symbols, names and locations. The
Buffalo-based company has produced hats for Major League Baseball
since the 1930s.