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Some Schools Believe the Catholic Rosary is a Gang Symbol

Michael Santo's picture

Some schools have become cracking down on the wearing of religious jewelry. They have gone so far as to suspend or send students home, in fact, in apparent fear that the Catholic rosary has become a gang symbol.

It’s not, however, the first and only times that such stories have hit the news. There have been other such stories in the past. In fact, in 2008, the USA Today ran a story on the issue, where police even alluded to the fact that rosaries have become a gang symbol.

In this case, the latest incidents have taken place in New York and Texas. Those two states would hardly seem to agree on anything, the former being Blue and the latter, Red, but in this case, they do.

Raymond Hosier, a student at Oneida Middle School in New York, was told by the principal of the school that he must remove his rosary beads or he would be suspended. He didn’t remove them, and he was suspended.

Hosier told WXXA “I think it’s not right to kick me out of school for wearing rosary beads. They’re in honor of my brother and uncle and that’s how it’s gonna stay.” Hosier's uncle died earlier this year, while his brother was killed by a car in 2005.

Meanwhile, at Blocker Middle School in Texas City, TX, a resource officer for the school confiscated a necklace that resembled rosary beads and a cross. Eight-grader Christian Thompson said that the necklace was in remembrance of a friend who was killed by a roadside IED in Iraq. “It helps me remember him and makes me feel safe. I think it’s not fair that they won’t let me wear it.”

Still, police tend to agree with school officials. While some may not wear rosaries as a sign of gang affiliation, others do. For example, in the earlier, USA Today case, Victor Castro, a detective and school resource officer who led gang awareness training in Hillsboro, OR said, "It's become part of the look. They use it as a reminder of protection."

On the other hand, he also added the following, which is a way to ask for the rosaries to be hidden in a sensitive way. He said, "I say, 'Do me a favor. Wear it inside your shirt close to your heart. There's a bad element out there that uses it in a different way.'"

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