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Clerk to Meet with Gang Experts About City Sticker

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Clerk to Meet with Gang Experts About Sticker

UPDATE: City pulls sticker over gang symbolism controversy

City Clerk Susana Mendoza is in talks with Chicago gang experts, including Jody Weis, to discuss the content of the 2012-2013 city sticker.

Questions were raised Tuesday about whether the sticker design, which pays homage to police officers, paramedics and firefighters, depicts gang symbolism associated with the Maniac Latin Disciples.

Mendoza spokeswoman Kristine Williams said the clerk is taking the matter very seriously, especially given the nature of the design.

"We are looking into the facts of the situation," Williams said.

More than 18,000 people voted for the 2012-2013 design by 15-year-old Lawrence Hall Youth Services student Herbert Pulgar. The sticker features the Chicago skyline, the city flag and outstretched hands.

When the sticker was chosen, Pulgar told NBCChicago on "The Talk" that he created the design to thank everyone who helped him during a tragic incident more than 10 years ago. When he was 4 years old, he said his clothes caught on fire when he was playing with a candle.

"The paramedics came and they saved my life," Pulgar said, "and I'm thankful for that, and this is how I can repay them."

Some police sources and police blogs said the design resembles the signs often flashed by Maniac Latin Disciples, along with other iconography.

Pulgar's art teacher, Janice Gould, disagrees. Gould showed NBCChicago the picture the boy used as his guide for the hands. He drew a near-exact replica of a "reaching for the stars" photo included in the teacher's "hands" booklet she gives to kids.

Gould said she wanted to teach Pulgar to believe in himself. "This has undone that," she said.

Mendoza said Tuesday in a statement she is "concerned about the recent developments." 

"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."

Mendoza plans to meet with Chicago Police and the Chicago Crime Commission to get their thoughts on the matter.

"Our office, we're not experts. They are," Williams said.

The upcoming design is the first sticker to bear Mayor Rahm Emanuel's name.

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