2007-12-14 / Community

NYPD:Holiday Customers Told,'Watch Your Colors'

By Miriam Rosenberg

This gold embroidered Yankee cap with a crown on top of the NY, seen in the window of a store in the Far Rockaway Shopping District, could be symbolic of the Latin Kings. This gold embroidered Yankee cap with a crown on top of the NY, seen in the window of a store in the Far Rockaway Shopping District, could be symbolic of the Latin Kings. It's that gift-giving time of the year. Maybe you're going to buy that sports fan in your life a New York Yankees cap. Perhaps you'll choose a red or yellow hat because that is their favorite color.

If you do, you might be putting your sports fan in danger, experts say.

Before you buy that team cap, which is traditionally dark blue with white lettering, but now comes in several bright colors, you should know that the various colors may well be considered gang-related and the wearer could find him or herself confronted by some serious trouble by wearing one.

These caps, made by - among others - New Era can be found in many shops, including some in the Far Rockaway business district. They are being sold despite the fact the company recalled all such caps in August of this year.

Yankee team caps made in red may well denote the wearer as a member of the Bloods gang; yellow or gold, the Latin Kings and blue, the Crips gang, have been on the market for some time.

In fact, in 2004 detectives from the New York City Police Department's computer crime squad warned about the availability of such caps at a presentation at the Arverne Library.

A more recent incarnation is a white cap embroidered in gold with a crown at the top of the NY, which could symbolize the Latin Kings. Caps are also made in checkered red and checkered black or with colored bandanas.

Last month Queens Councilman Leroy G. Comrie Jr. called a news conference and announced findings by his office on the subject.

"My office has conducted an investigation that has revealed the sale of gang-related apparel in New York City," said Comrie, in a statement.

"These caps are still for sale in legitimate businesses where unsuspecting parents may be inclined to pick up a holiday gift for their children - not aware that they may be putting their child's life at risk."

Comrie was referring to the August recall by New Era, who manufactures apparel for Major League Baseball. The caps were pulled off the shelves in collaboration with MLB.

In a November 21 statement on their website, New Era's Chief Executive Officer elaborated on the problem and the August recall.

"Recently, it was brought to our attention that these caps are still being found in stores," said Christopher Koch. "Any retail partner that has not returned the caps to New Era is essentially out of compliance.

"We understand the severity of this issue and emphasize that our attention to this matter is ongoing and immediate. We're confident that our business partners are cooperating and have the same concerns."

In November, Comrie said a hearing on the issue would take place on December 13.

On Tuesday, Speaker Christine Quinn's office received a fax from the company declining the invitation to testify during the hearing.

"Unfortunately, New Era is unable to appear at your December 13 hearing," wrote New Era's CEO, who added the company did not receive the notice until December 5.

"We cannot make the appropriate people available due to prior commitments and the time needed to prepare for this discussion."

Koch said the manufacturer has worked with various law-enforcement personnel in Buffalo, Brooklyn, and New York City enabling "New Era and MLB [to have] bolstered our already stringent review of all the designs and styles that go onto the market."

The fax stated the company would be willing to make representatives available to meet with Comrie after the holidays.

"I find it remarkable that a company with a 70-year history of selling baseball caps in this nation would be unprepared at any time to discuss their internal process in the development, marketing and sale of any of their products," said the councilman,

Also declining to appear at the hearing are Major League Baseball Properties, the Major Baseball Players Association, AKA Stashhouse, Dr. Jays and CapUSA.

There are various designs and colors for every team - pro or college - on New Era's website. Although they seem to have removed the cap colors in question, there are still caps with a combination of the colors that could be substituted.

In the meantime, be careful of the color cap you choose for that sports fan, Yankee or Mets.

Remember there's always the team's official colors - dark navy with white lettering for the Yankees and orange, blue and black for the Mets.

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