Saturday, May 27

Students respond to leaked photo of USAC president making gang symbol


A photograph of Danny Siegel, the president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, displaying a gang symbol began circulating online Sunday. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)

A photograph of Danny Siegel, the president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, displaying a gang symbol began circulating online Sunday. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)


Students expressed concern and outrage over a photograph of the undergraduate student government president that began circulating Sunday on social media.

In the photo, Danny Siegel, the Undergraduate Students Association Council president, posed with the hand sign of a primarily African American street gang called the Bloods. Many students said they think the gesture was insensitive to individuals affected by gang violence.

Some students began sharing a screenshot of the photo Sunday, one day before voting for this year’s USAC election opened. The photo was originally posted in a GroupMe chat called “Protect the Crown” by Brian Kohaya, Siegel’s appointments director. In the chat, Kohaya commented, “Problematic Danny. (Don’t you dare repost that photo).”

Siegel, who is a member of the Bruins United slate, said he estimates the photo was taken at least a year ago – before the 2016 USAC election – and the group chat was deleted last year. He posted an apology on Facebook Sunday afternoon.

“This is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk,” Siegel wrote in the post. “I should have known better and take full responsibility for my insensitivity.”

Robert Gardner, a fourth-year political science and African American studies student, said a group of African American students called an emergency community meeting Monday night and are discussing how they want to respond to the photo. The students are considering asking for another apology or demanding Siegel resign from the remainder of his term, which ends May 9.

Gardner, whose cousin died because of gang violence, said many African Americans in segregated neighborhoods join gangs for protection or income.

“When a white person throws up the gang sign, they’re basically making a mockery of the oppression that African Americans in hyper-segregated neighborhoods face,” he said. “A lot of black Bruins are extremely upset at this appropriation of our culture … that’s derived out of anti-black racism.”

Kosi Ogbuli, a first-year neuroscience student and incoming vice chair of the Afrikan Student Union, said he thinks the photo is inexcusable.

“From where I grew up, it’s a sign that implies a lot of things and a lot of danger,” Ogbuli said. “It’s like a name tag for what gang you’re in – that’s your set and you’re proud of being in it.”

He added political figures on campus should be aware of the implications of the sign, even if they do not fully understand the history behind it.

“That’s not something that should be mocked or even thought about by somebody that is a student leader,” Ogbuli said. “For some students, that might be a reality, a reason why their father or mother is not in the picture.”

Amy Shao, the USAC Cultural Affairs commissioner who ran with the slate Waves of Change last year, said she thinks the fact that the photo was taken over a year ago is irrelevant, and it should never have been taken in the first place. She added that she questioned the sincerity of Siegel’s apology because she thinks it should have been posted when the photo was taken, not after it became public.

“Being from communities of color, we can’t afford to not understand these things, because they impact us every day,” Shao said. “(Siegel) has the privilege to decide when to be informed and to pick what he knows. I don’t know if he understands that.”

She also said she believes other Bruins United members have been trying to flood students’ Facebook feeds with more campaign material than usual.

“No one (else) from the slate has said anything,” she said. “Their tactic is to cover it up. That’s them being quiet, but being loud the whole time.”

NJ Omorogieva, a second-year sociology and psychology student, said she knows people on campus who have been deeply affected by gang activity.

“Being part of the black community at UCLA, I know people who do have high stakes (in the issue),” she said. “For someone to mock it is extremely disrespectful. … The only reason why an apology was even given was that the student body found out about it.”

Omorogieva added posing with the sign is supposed to represent pride for what gang someone belongs to, and she could not imagine using the sign as someone outside gang culture.

“You know how long it takes to form your fingers into that?” she asked. “In all those minutes, you must have thought about doing it, positioned your fingers, posed for pictures – it takes a pretty long time for you to not realize it’s wrong.”

Siegel said he does not recall his thought process while taking the photo, but added he did know at the time that it was offensive to certain communities. He added he is willing to talk to anyone who reaches out to him about it.

“I obviously take full responsibility for this,” he said. “I regret it, I don’t want to say because it’s become public, but because students, whether they themselves or their families have been victims of gang violence, that’s something that I disrespected and I’m very aware of.”

Siegel added he thinks whoever leaked the photo is trying to use it as a political weapon in the ongoing election against the candidates running in his slate.

“The photo was taken more than a year ago and was obviously selectively leaked right now to have some sort of effect or create a conversation,” he said.

Gardner said he and a group of other students will attend Tuesday’s USAC meeting to voice their concerns to the council.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • An Ravel

    Funny how this post came out the Sunday before elections. This type of targetting is bullying. Since when did DB report on childhish gossip?

    • Petty

      a student leader being insensitive is childish gossip? childish gossip is talking about who likes who on the playground.

      and “bullying” lmao. trying to keep students accountable for their actions isn’t bullying.

      • Bruiser in Houston

        He’s white. Do you think maybe he didn’t know what some scummy gang’s hand sign might be?

        • Soma Belt

          I think this is retarded but to be honest everybody knows that one. It’s hard to throw.

    • Jocelyn

      So is being insensitive to the violence that black communities have had to face because of gang violence.

      • Timothy Smith

        Oh shutup with your phony outrage. Gangs suck. They should be mocked. Anyone who joins a gang is an idiot.

        • Jocelyn

          Wow, thank you Tim. Thanks for the great insight. I will definitely not take any of what you said into consideration mostly for the lack of any argument, as well as your ability to make said “arguments” in such a childish manner. I will definitely not shut up (two words) though when I see racism. Thanks for the suggestion though!

          • Timothy Smith

            Only there is no racism- I make phony gang signs all the time with my students and then claim its arthritis. I crack them up. Gangs are a scourge on our society and not exclusive to the black community. So yea- shutup you tool and stop being a whiny little entitled baby-boy. ALL lives matter!

          • Bill

            You don’t get out much, THAT is quite obvious.
            Must be nice living in fantasy land. “So is being insensitive to the
            violence that black communities have had to face because of gang
            violence”. There are a few things here you should probably look at when
            you attempt to dress someone down that merely disagrees with you. First,
            you don’t really make a great argument with that broad based statement you made
            above. Gangs have what to do with racism? You appear to be stuck on the
            racism cry of your OWN personal agenda. Gangs have been around forever and WILL
            be around forever. Just like racism and murder. If you can solve murder, taxes
            and rainy days then you can solve racism. The fact is you can’t solve any of
            them. You don’t have to be a part of it, however, you can’t
            simply make them go away because you wish it. You can’t insult or
            riot racism away, nor can you turn your back to the multicultural racism
            that is going on today. Everyone “wants theirs”, and they, meaning
            people from all backgrounds will do OR SAY almost anything to get it. You
            stepping up on your personal podium yelling I will not be quite when I see
            racism is great however, the only thing you can really do to stop it is not be
            part of it and teach children that it is wrong. You control nothing else. I
            come from a mixed family, so growing up I got to see lots of different
            situations that simply happened because brother or sister did something wrong
            and they had to pay the price for it. It was not because anyone was black or
            Spanish, it was because they did they wrong thing. And to be honest you really
            don’t have any idea other than watching life happen from your computer as
            to what’s going on out here. Let alone what is going on in real Black or ethnic
            communities.

          • VampQueen999 .

            I salute you Bill! Wonder what Jocelyn’s “brilliant” reply will be to this?

        • Wabbit

          Gangs are a product, usually with negative connotations, of people with certain personality types drawn together by instincts of tribalism.

          There is tendency among some gang members, to draw strength or confidence, which they themselves lack as individuals, from gang association. So emboldened, they often assert themselves in their perceived domain, challenging law and order or cultural convention.

          Some of those same characteristics are identifiable among feral dogs and hyenas.

      • tomcsy44

        You mean the violence blacks perpetrate on black communities? The demons they face are their own.

      • BKF

        Jocelyn – Since the gangs are birthed out of the community that they are victimizing, isn’t there something that the community can do about the gangs?

        I live in a black majority city and it breaks my heart seeing the devastation that happens within the community.

        Take a look at the latest tragedy in Jackson, MS. Three young black men stole a car left running in a grocery store parking lot at 1AM that had a 6 y/o boy in the back.

        The car was found that morning – they had shot the boy and abandoned the car.

        These are the stories that I hear every day on the local news. It’s commonplace. What can be done?

        • Timothy Smith

          And they DO victimize the community. I have had several of my students over the years tell me about how these gangs ‘recruit’ young people for new members by threatening, intimidating and basically force people to join- join or get jumped. I had a parent assaulted when they came to the front of a bodega to bring their kid home and the gang members would not let the kid leave and beat up the parent. These gangs are a cancer. Mocking them is just a bit of what they deserve.

      • Paul Bray

        So is being insensitive to the violence that communities have had to face because of gang violence.

        Corrected that for you, champ.

  • Maximus300

    Time to chill with the faux outrage. We get you have an agenda that is primarily for self-aggrandisement.

  • Young Reaganite

    Lol who cares.

  • godot42

    Sorry, but the student who are angry about this need to shut up. Was he mocking gang life? YEP. As it SHOULD be mocked. I heard a black female student actually say on the news that blacks are somehow forced to join gangs and commit crimes. That’s a dangerously wrong attitude, and completely invalid. The harshness of the reaction is indicative of hatred for whites by blacks. Instead of condemning gang violence, black student are condemning the white student who made the gang signs. It’s insane.

    • Jocelyn

      This post is a “dangerously wrong attitude.” Gang life shouldn’t be something to be mocked. It’s not funny in any way that people (of color) are subject this gang violence. It’s also not invalid to say that black are forced to join gangs and commit crimes. Due to the limited options they’re given, many times people of color are indeed encouraged into living this lifestyle. Especially from young ages when blacks are already considered “thugs” by the dominant culture. Also, sorry to tell you but reverse racism doesn’t exist.

      • Andrew White

        It’s not called reverse racism, it’s just racism.

        • Jocelyn

          “Instead of condemning gang violence, black students are condemning the white student who made the signs.” Let me close read this for you real quick (English majors, I know right). By using this phrase of “Instead of” this indicates a role-reversal.

          • Paul Bray

            “By using this phrase of “Instead of” this indicates a role-reversal. In this case, the roles that are being reversed is who faces racism.”

            That is called a straw man argument. The phrase “Instead of” in this context indicates rather than doing A, do B.

            “Racism is a word to describe the ways in which people of color have been systemically oppressed. Key word- oppressed.”
            No actually it doesn’t apply to only people of color.

          • godot42

            No, my dear. It doesn’t indicate a role reversal. You’re projecting that onto the statement. What it implies is a contrasting view, not a contrasting social status. It is incredibly revealing that you’d assume such a thing. Sociology major, right? The concept that racism only applies to minorities or socially disenfranchised groups is fallacious. It’s completely spurious, wholly derived from a pseudo-scientific assessment of race and gender relations, much of which is based on data that is long, long out of date and no longer applies. The very idea that social power dynamics only exist as a group phenomena is ridiculous. The idea that whites are a homogenous group is ridiculous. Blacks complain about poor treatment, but they haven’t been treated as poorly as Jews throughout history, so don’t even try to start. The belief that Jews are all rich is just part of the anti-semitism that has plagued them, and totally untrue. The term “ghetto” proper refers to Jewish quarters in European cities, not a black neighborhood. You’ve adopted a narrative promoted by liberals with an agenda. It is an attempt at disempowering dominant groups and empowering those minorities, but without adding the economic, creative, scientific, and other values that allowed those in a dominant position in society to succeed. I’m for justice for individuals, not for groups. I don’t want justice for blacks. I don’t want justice for whites. All such designations are just ways to divide people into groups so people with real power can more easily control us. You’re a perfect example of someone that has been successfully manipulated. You’re trying to excuse criminality and violence. You’re promoting the idiotic concept that racism is based in a social power dynamic. It’s not. Such an idea is an attempt to rationalize one’s hatred for others. It’s not like I don’t get the argument, I just find it stupid.

          • Left-wing activist

            “Racism is a word to describe the ways in which people of color have been systemically oppressed.”

            It’s literally not. Pick up a dictionary.

        • Wabbit

          “It’s not called reverse racism, it’s just racism.”
          ______________________________
          Indeed, since racism may be defined as:

          [the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.]

      • VampQueen999 .

        Andrew White below me is right, Jocelyn. Reverse racism doesn’t exist – but there is still racism. And news flash – black people CAN be racist! That’s not a racist thing to say, that’s just a fact of life!

        And don’t give me that whole “racism is prejudice AND power + privilege” spiel, that’s just a cop-out to excuse some black people’s poor behavior and blatant racism towards white people. Every other race can also be racist, too, and not just white people. And white IS a race, too, dear. Sorry to break it to you.

        Also black people have autonomy, and responsibility for their actions – they can decide ON THEIR OWN NOT to go into gangs. Sure, the straight and narrow path isn’t always the easy path – but it is SO worth not having a criminal record, or being in debt or being in jail, or even dead.

        Gang culture is mocked because it’s a terrible life to live, full of violence and criminal activity.

      • godot42

        “Due to limited options they’re given (GIVEN!), many times people of color are indeed encouraged into living this lifestyle.” THAT is a dangerously wrong attitude, Jocelyn. To start, you make your own way and own choices in life. You’re not given anything. When you compare your life to those very few (yet highly visible) people who are born to wealth, that’s stupid, and why you’re unsatisfied with your life. When a person glorifies their stupid choices and criminal lifestyle, especially when they get busted for it, yes, that’s absolutely appropriate to treat with as much mockery and contempt possible. No one is forced to join a gang. Doing so, and believing you have to, is a form of cowardice. You want me to excuse cowardice just because you were born into poor circumstances??? No freaking way. Most of us are poor, which is no excuse to make unethical choices. In fact, it should be a reason you see the negative effect of bad ethical choices more immediately, and should know better. Rich people can cushion themselves from the effects of bad choices with their money, but poor people can’t. And you want sympathy for that? Grow the fuok up. Stop acting like a kid who got in trouble and is begging for forgiveness. Accept responsibility for your choices in life. Yes, life is unfair, but if you add to it because you’re selfish or impatient, or just feel wronged, your suffering is your own fault. You deserved it. You only deserve sympathy if you make the ethical choice and are then screwed over. Not otherwise.

  • godot42

    DEAR BLACKS: YOU DON’T OWN CULTURE. YOU DON’T GET TO DENY OTHERS FROM “APPROPRIATING” ANYTHING THEY WANT. WHEN YOU TRY, *YOU’RE* THE BIGOTS!!

  • Chris Moceri

    An emergency meeting was called, OH MY GOD ITS THE APOCALYPSE GRAB YOUR PIP BOY

  • Ken Dodd

    White privilege! Oh my god what have these pathetic brainwashed little snowflake simpletons become. More manufactured outrage from America’s perpetually offended “victim” groups, followed by more pathetic groveling and stupid left wing buzz-words. USA 2017.

  • Bruiser in Houston

    The real outrage should be that anything above the level of a junior college actually has majors in hyphenated-American studies. It isn’t like you’re marketable with this degree.

  • Young Reaganite

    “A lot of black Bruins are extremely upset at this appropriation of our culture … that’s derived out of anti-black racism.”

    Wow. Crazy admission. So Blacks are the only race that join gangs? Gang life is part of their culture? What a terrible culture.

    • Jocelyn

      Blacks aren’t the only race that join gangs. Unfortunately, many other minorities are also subject to a lifestyle where joining a gang might be the only option (except that the mentioned gang is primarily black). Many whites are also parts of gangs, except they’re policed differently and so they’re called the KKK and are allowed to do what they want. I know, shocker right? There is anger because this gang culture is being made a mockery of. The countless deaths that have been lost to gang-violence, the trauma, etc. Being upset has nothing to do with defending the gang culture itself and the violence it entails. Instead, it has to do with defending the people who have been forced to take it on as a part of their culture. It’s not okay to make a mockery of this life people are basically made to take on. So, yes gang culture is a “terrible culture,” but who inflicts it on these colored bodies and who gets labeled as a gang? You might want to think about that.

  • Derek Homer Goodwin

    Just because he is white and looks all cleaned up now doesn’t mean he couldn’t have grown up in a bad neighborhood. My cousins are hood as f*ck and white. Their daddy is white and was hood, dealing dope, street gang rep and everything. He cleaned up and is trying to get his boys to do the same now though all of them are grown. Oh… and they rep in red. Morons.

  • Morteza Fan Club

    The only appropriate action is for Danny Siegel to create his own gang (and gang sign) and then claim a part of the campus as his turf. “Jew wanna play rough?”

  • cpt. wirz

    If he were black it would be a non issue.
    It would be the “Culcha” or black pride.but since this kid is white he has to apologize and squirm. That’s Black Priveledge 101

    • Jocelyn

      1) Spell privilege right 2) Black privilege isn’t a thing 3) This has racist undertones 4) Would you say this in person to a black person? 5) Try again next time (and try to consider being more accurate)

      • Paul Bray

        Jocelyn is clearly unaware of what goes on it Africa.

      • Timothy Smith

        I make fake gang signs to my students all the time as a joke. It’s an ongoing laugh that we have. Not one of them gets offended or thinks its racist because its not.

      • Left-wing activist

        “Black privilege isn’t a thing”

        Tell college admissions that, because last time I checked, it’s a big plus to have the privilege to check that box.

  • Zytor-LordoftheSkies

    Lol! Welcome to the Brave New World of Progressivism! You see, Jews, this is the world YOU wanted and you created, because you wanted to destroy whitey. But guess what? All the lovely diversity out there can’t tell (((you))) from a goy, so they’ll cut your throat too, the minute they seize power.

  • Cal_Bears

    Help me Bruins, I need condescend and humble myself for a noun form of “overwrought”. Google is not my friend on this one.

  • Naked Tiger

    Apparently gang signs are culturally significant…

  • Barry Wilson

    In other words, “he’s white and we hate him for being white so we will find any reason to justify our bigotry towards him”.

    The good news is that people are slowly being red-pilled thanks to BS like this.

  • Jo Johnsonn

    He just looks like a d-bag

  • VampQueen999 .

    Sadly enough, this resulted in a black woman just incoherently screaming and yelling at the poor guy in question. All while clapping between words (typical idiot behavior) and dancing like an idiot. All this… over a stupid gang sign that fell out of fashion two decades ago. I don’t think this woman earned her acceptance into that college, I just think Affirmative Action got her in!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7tfluz_ps0

  • Wabbit

    [“This is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk,” Siegel wrote in the post. “I should have known better and take full responsibility for my insensitivity.”]
    _________________________________
    Pandering drivel in a deluded attempt for acceptance, where none exists; will not save you when the racist mob, with whom you seek to ingratiate yourself, becomes violent.

  • Bill Fitzpatrick

    https://youtu.be/VJZjEKJllOk I made a short video on “white priveiige.” Please have a look. Cheers.

  • Left-wing activist

    Notice the perspective that wasn’t included in this article: it’s not a big deal, and, in fact, gang members should be mocked.