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Police: Students could be mistaken as gang members with new school sweatshirt

Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 06, 2013

ELK GROVE, Calif. (CNN)--The class of 2014 at one California school has run into a problem with their senior sweatshirts.

Police warn it could be dangerous to wear them in public.

At first glance, it seems innocent enough, just a senior sweatshirt.

"You wear that on the street you're going to get your a** kicked!” Anna Trejo, parent, said

Others say the roman numerals XIV have a deeper meaning.

"Those are the symbols for a Hispanic gang."

The symbol “14” is often associated with the Nortenos, a gang with strong roots in northern California.

"I feel like it's their symbol and we just kind of like copied it,” Trejo said.

School administrators say the class innocently chose the design, and it was vetted by a number of people who didn’t know about the connection.  But now the students at Cosumnes Oaks high school say they won't wear the class shirt, and some want a refund.

"I feel like we all are kind of fearful," one student said.

"Every year our senior class designs a sweatshirt, and for their theme this year, the class of 2014 this year went with a Roman theme," Elk Grove Unified School District's Liz Graswhich said.

"That's baloney. I mean, really? You got the cops here. I mean they even know it,” Trejo said.

Detective Sergeant Luis Aguilar has been with the gang unit for nine years. He says if your child is wearing this sweatshirt in the wrong neighborhood, he or she could be looked at as a gang member.

"If they are going to wear a symbol that these gang members associated with, they better be aware of that, their parents better be aware of that,” Aguilar said.

“We are going to put out a letter in the next day or so and let parents know it has been brought to our attention, and if they would like a refund, they are welcome to it," Graswhich said.