Gangs Choosing New Team to Show Pride

Gangs find new affiliation with sports teams

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Many area gangs have chosen local sports teams logos for their own. (Published Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011)

    Francisco Leyva spent his Wednesday morning playing ball with his toddler.

    Leyva knew he would get glares in San Francisco Giants country, because he and his son Christian were sporting their Dodger hats and t-shirts

    “I’m just a baseball fan. It’s what I am,” said Leyva.

    But the Dodger-blue is a color the Sureno street gang uses to identify itself.  And the letters “L" and "A” on their hats are used by the "Latin Aspects" street gang.

    So the glares intensify.

    “Not just at the ballpark, but going to the mall,” said Leyva. “People just looking at me and giving me dirty looks.”

    San Jose police say Leyva is not alone.

    Experts say the San Francisco Giants hat is used by what’s known as Folk Nation Gangs.

    The A’s hat also represents the Spanish Cobras gang.

    Satan’s Disciples adopted the San Diego Padres insignia.

    Even the Nebraska Cornhuskers have a gang affiliation. Experts say their bright red “N” was adopted by the Nortreno street gangs.

    “It’s not uncommon for criminal street gangs to use hats, jerseys, from different sports teams,” said San Jose police sergeant Jason Dwyer.

    Dwyer is former head of the department’s gang unit.

    “All Bay Area teams are usually utilized to identify with gangs,” said Dwyer.

    Leyva was at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles over the weekend, after Giants fan Bryan Stow, from Santa Cruz, was attacked by men wearing Dodgers apparel.

    Police have not made any arrests in the attack, nor have they identified it as a gang incident.

    As for Leyva, he says Chavez Ravine is getting a bad rap, and doesn’t think it’s as dangerous as people make it out to be. And he’s not about to change his colors because of all the violence and gang affiliations.

    “That’s not going to change me as a person, raising my son as a Dodgers fan,” said Leyva.

    Leyva vows to be true to his team, even if it means more glares from rival baseball fans, and from those who may not care about sports at all.