Mayor Asks Stores to Stop Selling Gangsta Garb
By George Anderson
Success in retailing is all about catering to the needs of your customers, but in San Jose, Cal., the mayor and others within the community think local stores and Internet merchants
have gone overboard by selling customized gang-related merchandise to members of the Norteños, the Sureños and others who want to look like them.
A report in the San Jose Mercury News, said Mayor Ron Gonzales has sent a letter to merchants asking they stop selling red and blue shirts, jackets and hats bearing the
numbers 13 and 14 used by the gangs.
The letter reads, “When stores like yours sell gang-related merchandise, clothing and colors, it undermines our community’s ability to steer young people away from gangs and
a potential life of crime.’
Angel Rios of the Gang Prevention Task Force in San Jose said wearing the emblems and colors of t he gangs can be dangerous. “We understand that businesses are trying to make
money, but we don’t want to promote businesses selling merchandise that could get someone killed. We want to keep people safe.”
Most of the merchants receiving the letter from the mayor appear to be complying with his request but some are concerned by what they see as heavy-handed tactics by the city.
Brendan Jensen, who manages San Jose Blue Jeans on Story Road, said the San Jose police have come to his store to see if it continues to sell gang related merchandise.
“We want to cooperate…but when they came in and started taking pictures, that upset me a little bit,’ he said. “How often are you going to come, and is this going to harm
Mr. Jensen said his store is no longer ordering merchandise such red “Cali 14” jerseys that normally sell out in two weeks time.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to this story? Should retailers be able to sell products that may be deemed harmful if it’s good for business
but not necessarily the buyer or community where they live? –
George Anderson – Moderator