By Thomas Tracy
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes is seeing red over gang colors - especially when he sees them on a Yankees hat.
He's so mad that he's calling on Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Bud Selig to stop marketing baseball caps, shirts and jerseys in identifiable gang colors that could put innocent civilians at harm, he announced at a recent press conference.
"Clothes marketed to gangs only encourage the violent, murderous behavior that is tearing our communities apart," Hynes.
A recent investigation by the Kings County District Attorney's office found many stores in the borough selling MLB-sanctioned team merchandise in nontraditional colors that can be construed as gang attire.
These hats and jerseys are purchased and worn by gang members to inconspicuously identify themselves to other gang members.
Investigators found New York Yankee memorabilia in red and white for Bloods members, royal blue and white for Crips members and yellow and black for the Latin Kings.
MLB merchandise is also printed on colors and patterns that are usually found on bandannas that gang members wear.
During their survey, a detective investigator buying a red Yankees cap in Bushwick was actually warned that by wearing the hat, he could be mistaken for a Blood member by other Bloods or their rival gang members.
Another undercover investigator was shown a catalog of gang symbols that he could have embroidered on his baseball hat he was purchasing at the Fulton Street Mall.
MLB-endorsed clothing in gang colors was found to be "priced significantly higher" than clothes in traditional team colors.
All of these "gang clothes" were officially licensed by Major League Baseball and sold under popular brand names like New Era and the Cooperstown Collection.
Hynes is encouraging Selig from selling team logos in gang colors after hearing of several incidents in which borough residents were assaulted or murdered for unknowingly wearing gang colors.
"A cap or jacket sold to an unsuspecting consumer would put that person at risk should he wander into a neighborhood considered under the control of a rival gang," Hynes wrote. "However, someone could just as easily be assaulted wearing colors friendly to a particular gang, if members of that gang confronted the person expecting to meet one of their own."
Hynes asked Commissioner Selig to set up a meeting to discuss the issue further.
Calls to MLB Baseball for comment were not returned as this paper went to press.
In his letter, Hynes said that a new group that he helped form called Mothers Against Gangs intends to boycott stores where gang related merchandise is sold.
©2008 Community News Group
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