A teen's piece of art that was chosen, and then disqualified, to adorn Chicago's vehicle stickers amid concerns of gang imagery is headed to the complex of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Herbie Pulgar, 15, and his mother will travel to D.C. this week at the request of Rep. Luis Gutierrez. The Chicago Democrat chose Pulgar's design, which the teen said honors police officers, firefighters and paramedics, to represent the district as part of the 2012 Congressional Art Contest.
“Herbie is a great kid who deserves recognition and praise for this wonderful and positive piece of art. I think it’s a credit to Herbie and his family that he chose to honor Chicago’s first responders and I’m very proud to have his artwork represent the Fourth Congressional District in Washington, D.C.," Gutierrez said in a statement.
Pulgar's design features the Chicago skyline, the city flag and outstretched hands.
Receiving more than 18,000 votes, Pulgar's creation was originally chosen as the winning entry in a city contest to design Chicago's 2012-2013 vehicle stickers, but Clerk Susana Mendoza later pulled the entry after some said they saw imagery related to the Maniac Latin Disciples embedded within.
When the sticker was chosen, Pulgar told NBC Chicago 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.
“As Herbie, his mother, and his art teacher have made quite clear, this poster represents a positive vision of our city and shows gratitude to the first responders who give so much to Chicago. I think it’s appropriate that we say ‘good job’ to a good kid who has produced an uplifting piece of art,” Gutierrez said.
Mendoza later said the design by runner-up Caitlin Henehan, a Resurrection High School senior, would be on the stickers, but Henehan pulled out of the contest, wanting little to do with the controversy.
Pulgar's poster will hang in the in the hallway Members of Congress and visitors use to access the Capitol from the Cannon House Office Building until next year.
Pulgar's father, Herbert Pulgar, was among 17 known gang and suspected gang members charged four years ago with trafficking cocaine. He's been the subject of an international manhunt ever since.
Editor's Note: A version of this post incorrectly identified the name of the street gang for which some said they saw imagery.