Mayor Asks Stores to Stop Selling Gangsta Garb

Discussion
Mar 31, 2005
George Anderson

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
my business?’

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

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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12 Comments on "Mayor Asks Stores to Stop Selling Gangsta Garb"


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Laurie Cozart
Guest
Laurie Cozart
15 years 10 months ago

The police are inspecting the stores for compliance? Why are they not putting the stores under surveillance and investigating the buyers? What about the store employees? Are employees now at risk for removing gang related materials from the shelf? While I appreciate the Mayor’s civic mindedness, his methods are way off base.

Mark Lee
Guest
Mark Lee
15 years 10 months ago

Clothes don’t kill people; people kill people. (Don’t tell this to Mr. Blackwell.)

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 10 months ago

I think the city absolutely should ask retailers to stop selling such clothing. He should shame these stores in speeches if they don’t. It’s not that it will prevent gang members from identifying themselves, it’s that these stores make it OK and normal. Kids who are not yet in gangs have to think “If it’s so bad, why can I buy the uniform in any decent store?”

But I do think that having the appearance of state action, e.g. cops taking pictures, is way over the line. It should be a political issue, not a government policy. The politicians should stake out positions and rally the community to pressure the retailers. The police and state or city entities cannot be involved.

Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 10 months ago

Correct goal, wrong solution. Someone said it earlier…ludicrous.

Ray Lippert
Guest
Ray Lippert
15 years 10 months ago

Wearing club or gang colors is serious business to the members of these organizations. If a gang member believes you are a rival they will beat the tar out of you, if not kill you.

If you think this is cute or trendy, wear some Hells Angels colors around and see what happens. You won’t even see it coming.

Signed,
Been There

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I am all for community outrage, shame, and pressure of local leadership to encourage better citizenship by retailers. I question the tactics in some cases and it can be a bit dangerous. However, the issues that cause the concern may outweigh the pressure and methods used. That also is a slippery slope.

While I see both sides of this argument, I do believe its time for strong leadership from all facets of our communities. Bill Cosby has spoken out a bit recently. In my own community the same outspokenness is being encouraged but not developing. I’ll look to be educated more on this one.

Mike Jamerson
Guest
Mike Jamerson
15 years 10 months ago

This is nonsense. Government is impotent to stop the bad guys so they feign action by going after passive business people. In Los Angeles, gangs like to wear Raider jerseys. Would our leaders suggest we stop selling these?

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

In a country that refuses to regulate guns properly? How dare anyone even try to regulate what clothes people wear. Hypocrisy at its zenith.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 10 months ago

I agree with the comments already made. This is ludicrous. If gangs can’t get the clothes that currently define them as belonging, some other symbol will become the identifying insignia. Does San Jose plan on outlawing every new clothing item that becomes hot?

Talk about treating the symptom and not the disease, this is extreme.

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 10 months ago

What’s next, to outlaw cars because they can be used in drive-by shootings?

And if I were in law enforcement, I would *want* gang members to be in easily identifiable garb. Its when they look like everyone else that it becomes a tough job.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

If the products are legal the retailers should be able to sell them. The mayor’s problem isn’t with the stores that sell the products but rather the customer’s that buy them.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

It’s legal to sell cigarettes, isn’t it?

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