Wednesday, September 18

FIRED UP! candidate criticizes LET’S ACT! hand symbols


Courtesy of Tyler Cherry

Courtesy of Tyler Cherry


A candidate from the FIRED UP! slate released a statement Wednesday claiming that hand symbols used by the LET’S ACT! slate promote gang culture.

The statement by FIRED UP! financial supports commissioner candidate Gabriel Gutierrez. (Click to enlarge.)
The statement by FIRED UP! financial supports commissioner candidate Gabriel Gutierrez. (Click to enlarge.)

Gabriel Gutierrez, the FIRED UP! candidate for Undergraduate Students Association Council Financial Supports commissioner, issued the statement, which criticizes LET’S ACT! for using a hand sign that he says trivializes the effects of gang culture on communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

The LET’S ACT! hand symbol consists of using the right-hand thumb and index finger to make an L and using the left-hand index and middle fingers to create an A.

FIRED UP! and LET’S ACT! are both running candidates in this week’s USAC election.

Anh Nguyen, a FIRED UP! campaign manager and a fourth-year global studies student, said the statement was not written on behalf of the FIRED UP! slate, although the slate supports Gutierrez and his statement.

Gutierrez, a second-year sociology student, said he disagrees with students’ use of hand gestures because he comes from a community where the use of hand signals is affiliated with gangs.

He added that the point of the press release is to address his concerns with not just the LET’S ACT! sign, but also the use of hand gestures on campus in general.

LET’S ACT! members use the hand symbol because the acronym for their slate name is “L.A.” and one of the slate’s main ambitions is to connect with the local Los Angeles community through outreach to K-12 schools and city leaders, among other goals, said Tyler Cherry, a campaign manager for LET’S ACT! and a third-year political science student.

The LET’S ACT! slate aims to combat socioeconomic and structural inequalities both on and off the UCLA campus, including areas where gang violence is prevalent, Cherry said. The hand symbol is not meant to promote gangs in any way, he said.

He added that he thinks the press release is “negative campaigning.”

“I’m really ashamed that the FIRED UP! slate is trying to bring down the LET’S ACT! slate and everything we’re fighting for,” Cherry said.

The statement says that the use of the L.A. symbol “sends a message that gang violence is no longer an issue in our communities and allows a free pass for cultural appropriation.”

Some members of FIRED UP! were formerly a part of LET’S ACT! and campaigned with the L.A. hand symbol during last year’s election.

One of the candidates who ran with the LET’S ACT! slate last year is a campaign manager for the FIRED UP! slate this year.

Uyen Hoang, a fourth-year international development studies student and one of the campaign managers for FIRED UP!, ran for Academic Affairs commissioner last year.

As of press time, Hoang said she had not yet read the statement and did not feel comfortable speaking about it.

Nguyen said that while some individuals involved in the FIRED UP! slate have worked with LET’S ACT! in the past, they did not know the stigma attached to hand signals and have since sought to better understand the effects of gang culture.

The FIRED UP! slate initially had plans to run candidates with the LET’S ACT! slate before deciding to form its own coalition this year.

Nguyen told the Daily Bruin in April that they opted to create the new slate because certain cultural and community-oriented groups would not be represented by the LET’S ACT! slate.

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  • vrael eragon

    what is this? seriously, so these candidates start to trash talk the other candidates? I thought we only see this in the government election campaign. apparently this happens early in your college education. no wonder

  • Jason

    This is hella immature of people to think that this hand sign promotes gang violence. It is clearly a form of representation of the party. Even if it is affiliated with Los Angeles, we are at he University of California LOS ANGELES and there are many gang signs out there that are way more provocative than this one. My best guess would be that the LA hand sign is one of the most commonly used hand signs in Los Angeles. People share pride in where they are, the the Lets Act campaign is representative of the starting action at UCLA.

    If you think about it, FIRED UP promotes smoking with their lighters. UCLA is a SMOKE FREE campus now, and the promotion of lighters directly ignites the path towards cigaretts. However, people did not make this association at first hand and people need to stop being so immature about a symbol that does not hurt anyone, and only represents a party that threaten’s another party’s chances at victory.

    I’m sure that everyone that has attended UCLA has thrown up the LA hand symbol once during their career at UCLA, and instigating this kind of conversation reflects poorly on the type of judgement people can make.

    • John T

      I’ve grew up in LA and SoCal and did my undergrad, grad, and research work at UCLA over 8 years. I’ve never ever seen this “LA” hand symbol or even knew about it until I read this article just now. The only time I recall ever seeing hand symbols were when they were made by gang members. If I were still at UCLA and saw people throwing hand signs on campus, I would in fact associate them with gangs.