Each day, a dozen or more young men stroll into Queens Supreme Court sporting the Cincinnati Reds’ signature red-and-black cap.
The fashion trend doesn’t mean the borough has stopped rooting for the Mets in favor of this year’s National League Central champions.
Veteran prosecutors say members of the Bloods–the largest and most dangerous gang in Queens–have worked the red “C” into their wardrobe in a direct slap at blue-themed rivals the Crips.
Queens’ top gang prosecutor complains the brazen thugs wear the cap to intimidate witnesses or show solidarity with brother gangsters.
Cops and prosecutors say the hats are an especially common sight in Queens because of the Bloods’ strong presence in Far Rockaway housing projects for more than a decade.
Manhattan court officers say they see the black-and-gold Pittsburgh Pirates hat, a favorite of the Latin Kings. Brooklyn and Bronx court workers are also on the lookout for gang colors.
State courts have been guided by a federal judge’s 2003 decision striking down efforts by a Nevada courthouse to ban bikers from wearing their colors.
But court officers say they can’t ignore the color show. If they see a bunch of visitors in similar shades, they might swarm the courtroom with officers.
And because hats must be removed in courtrooms, some gang members are using subtler messages–like red shoelaces or a rolled-up pant leg, prosecutors said.