A jovial snowman, the words "trap or die," lucky Coke. All are seemingly innocuous, but shirts with these slogans were all seized in drug busts and deputies say they are popular among gangs in Tallahassee.
"Snowman, when it says the real snow, the real snow, generally what we see is it references cocaine, so we just don't want something like that for the kids to be wearing to school," says Grady Jordan, the Regional Director of the Gang Investigators Association.
Deputies say wearing these symbols doesn't necessarily indicate gang ties or drug activity, but they say it could. Parents should tune in to what their children are wearing. Children in Tallahassee say they've seen those t-shirts in town, but have mixed opinions on whether they're trendy or trouble.
"Some of them get shot in shootings and stuff, and I say, I just feel bad for them, but my dad doesn't allow me to wear those shirts," says Lamar Metzs, a fifth grader.
"I think they really don't mean nothing. It's like, they probably just wear them to match clothes or just because everybody else is wearing them," says sixth grader Denisha Penny.
"Certain gangs wear certain colors and certain symbols, and if you're not aware of what the symbols and colors represent, yes, it can put a child in danger," warns Yolando Westbrook, who works at Jake Gaither Community Center.
Deputies say beyond the symbols and obvious drug allusions, parents should also be wary if their children choose to wear clothes only in one color because that, they say, can be a glimmer of gang life too.
Deputies say clothing is only one hint of gang involvement. If your child starts breaking curfew, slipping in school, suddenly has lots of cash or clothes that he or she can't explain, you should sit down and start talking.
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