Artwork Or Gang Symbols? City Sticker Design Embroiled In Controversy

Herbert Pulgar's winning city sticker artwork

Is it an innocent tribute to Chicago’s police and firemen or a covert shout out to gang members?

That’s the current controversy embroiling the Chicago City Clerk’s office over the winning artwork in this year’s city sticker design contest just days before the 2012-2013 city sticker was scheduled to go to press.

The story began at the Detective Shaved Longcock website, a local blog devoted to local police enforcement news, which made the allegations that this year’s winning artwork, destined to be printed on 1.3 million city stickers, contains many symbols used by the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang.

The MLD is considered one of this city’s most violent and notorious gangs and was targeted in a crackdown by Chicago police this past summer after a shooting at park wounded two young girls.

The post goes on to accuse this year’s winner Herbert Pulgar, a 15-year old student at Lawrence Hall Services as an admitted member of the gang.

It was just last Thursday at City Hall when Pulgar, who in a moving and heartfelt speech at the awards ceremony for the design contest, said in a speech he owes his life to Chicago firemen who helped him when he caught himself on fire as a 4 year old. Pulgar prize for having the winning design was a $1000 savings bond.

“When we saw it we saw a great piece of art,” says City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams. “18,000 Chicagoans voted on which piece of artwork was best and his piece won.”

Herbert Pulgar poses with his winning city sticker artwork

“I am concerned about the recent developments regarding the city vehicle sticker design,” says City Clerk Susana Mendoza in a statement released late today. “Every artist has a back story and often times artwork is controversial. However, the artwork on Chicago’s city stickers should not be controversial. In a design that is meant to honor the city’s first responders, I am very sensitive to this issue. I grew up in a neighborhood filled with crime and gang violence and I come from a law enforcement family. My office is investigating the facts and will look further into the allegations before I determine what action to take regarding the 2012 – 2013 city sticker design.”

Williams says the Clerk’s office was planning to sign off on final proofs on Wednesday and go to press soon after that.

“We were hoping to go to print later this week or early next week,” said Williams. “But tonight we haven’t made a decision.”

While the artwork may seem innocuous to most viewers, unfortunately, at least according to one former gang member and graffiti artist, Pulgar’s artwork does seem to contain a disturbing number of gang symbols.

“I see a lot of forks going up,” said the ex-gang member who asked to remain anonymous, in reference to the pitchfork iconography the MLD’s use. “The D’s use a lot of red and black colors and there are forks going up inside of a heart, another symbol they use. And in the photo (at the awards ceremony) he’s wearing red–the gang’s main color.”

The Clerk’s office have asked the Chicago Police Department’s gang unit for their expert opinion on the controversial artwork and hope to have enough information to reach a decision soon.

Pulgar and his family could not be reached for comment.

18 Responses to Artwork Or Gang Symbols? City Sticker Design Embroiled In Controversy

  1. glg says:

    only in chicago

  2. Dee says:

    NOT only in Chicago!

  3. Drew says:

    I’ll take “covert gang symbology ” for $1000 Mike.

    Things that make you go hmmm…



    Present family name : PULGAR
    Forname : HERBERT
    Sex : Male
    Date of birth : 01/08/1969 (42 years old)
    Place of birth : ILLINOIS , United states
    Language spoken : Spanish , English
    Nationality : United states, Venezuela

    Categories of Offences : Drug-related crimes, Drug-related crimes, Crimes involving the use of weapons/explosives , Drug-related crimes, Drug-related crimes, Drug-related crimes
    Wanted by : United states, CHICAGO / ILLINOIS

  4. Drew says:

    That is the “innocent little artists” daddy BTW

  5. mr. z. says:

    Glad the city yanked this design. Over on the Tribune, the kid’s mom is whining about what a good kid he is…yeah, right! His FB page shows him flashing gang signs. Glad someone had the brains to stop this sticker from being printed.

  6. vern says:

    I don’t know why you would even link the that racist shaved longcock blogger. He is a racist through and though. He calls all people of color “Colored” or illegal beaners or uses degrading graphics like “Dlack Death” or people in black face. He has noting to say constructive about people of color save police officers. He makes an exception for those fellow officers otherwise he has only the hate filled comments for people of color. He has only cleaned up his writing recently because he hopes to cash in on his blog.

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I linked to the website because it was the story there that sparked the entire controversy. It is linked because it is relevant to the story.

  8. Kelly says:

    The racism on display at other local blogs, and in the comments of Chicago news sites, has been horrifying. He is only fifteen years old. Even if he previously or currently affiliated with MLD, even if he intentionally referenced their symbols, he’s a troubled child with a criminal for a dad, surrounded by bad influences. He’s a child in crisis, not someone who deserves all the rage that we feel toward gang violence in general. The consequences of being in the news like this are worse than what any kid in his situation deserves. He needs intervention and support. If the symbols are just a coincidence, and he really did mean well, this publicity could really destroy him.

    I understand why Geek linked to the blog that started this –it’s news, not an endorsement of the site’s views. But ohmygod that website is disturbing. It’s like the KKK over there.

    At this point, it’s probably for the best that we have a new sticker. I don’t want anything on my car that could become about gang symbols, whether it was intentional or not, because it may encourage vandalism. But I wonder if this could have been avoided — the City Clerk’s office didn’t have to respond to the allegations on the blogs. Once Mendoza issued a statement, it became a big news story, and that sticker was going to become about gang symbols whether it was ever meant that way or not.

  9. dnt trip says:

    wow stupid ass motha fuckers there sayin he is representing for the MLDz and sayin that the colors are its not MLDz colors are black and baby blue and not 1 disciple gang weres red not the MLDz not the GDz not the SGDz or the SDz

  10. dnt trip says:

    so i really think he should of one that they are so wrong and the runner up picture looks so lame

  11. Art Lover says:

    Funny there is a picture on the City Clerk’s website contact page which looks more like the gang sign in question …. than did the students art. Guess they need to paint over that mural and change their website, and go ahead and sensor all art while they’re at it. They could have at least edited out the “offending” finger/s. I wish I could give that kid a hug, it was clearly hand drawing techniques 101. Is there some forum to show support for the kid whose heart they just trampled all over?

  12. How Ridiculous says:

    We better get busy burning all them American Flags – they got red on ‘em and everyone that owns one is a gang member. This entire thing is an insult to gangs everywhere!

    And you wonder why the good ol’ USA is going down the crapper.

  13. Pete says:

    It would be very very appropriate for Chicago to have a city sticker with gang signs on it. They should have left it just like it was.

  14. Claire says:

    This is coming from a family member. This is a perfect example of you reep what you sow! Its a shame that a child has to pay for what his daddy/mami did! Its not the kids fault that he has parents that lived a rough life that rubbed of on poor little Herbie!

  15. [...] with some incendiary allegations that this year’s winning city sticker design contained covert gang symb…, and with the deadline to go to press with the 2012-2013 city sticker just a few days away, Mendoza [...]

  16. FGFM says:

    I always thought that this site was a little hinky, but it’s telling that “Geek” would link to one of the most racist web sites around and simply refer to it as “a local blog devoted to local police enforcement news.” The name of the blog is obscene on its face because the idiot who runs it apparent uses his cybersex persona in a pathetic attempt to lure badge bunnies, but a responsible individual would at least put a NSFW notice by the link. I feel that playing dumb about that site and others like it are attempts to make overt racist rhetoric mainstream. Not gonna happen, and that’s why people like me were able to boot Joe the Cop from ChicagoNOW and Chicago News Report from Everyblock. No reasonable person who publishes under their own name is going to want to own that stuff. All the same, the kid’s connections and activities are suspect enough in their own right to warrant the city pulling the design.

  17. asdfg says:

    they are idiots. that is a rt

  18. [...] new stickers are more simply designed (after last year’s fiasco and feature anti-fraud measures such as listing the make, model, and VIN of the vehicle. They also [...]

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