2004-03-05 / Front Page

Community concerned over Christian cross, Iron Cross

By Billie Owens

The German Iron Cross has been banned from student clothing in the Simi Valley Unified School District after teens claiming ties with white supremacists wore the symbol on their clothes.

Director of Secondary Education Don Gaudioso mailed letters to parents last week explaining the dress code change after teachers reported that some students wearing the symbol claimed it represented pride in the white race.

The ban is effective immediately.

Dozens of high school students wear the Iron Cross, which is the symbol used by companies such as West Coast Choppers and the Independent Truck Co. A popular skateboard maker uses the logo as well.

But its real notoriety stems from the days when Adolf Hitler added a swastika to the middle of the cross to make it a symbol of the Nazi party. The cross was created in 19th Century Germany as a war medal.

Some teens say the fashion appeals to skateboarders and others and is not a proclamation of hate or intolerance.

Others, like 21-year-old Marco Lira, says the German Cross represents things he’d rather not be associated with and that it does send a negative message.

Lira works at a skateboarding store on Cochran Street called Infusion and attended both Santa Susana and Simi Valley high schools. He said he’s around young people a lot because he plays in a popular local rock band called The Memory and he helps out at the Boys & Girls Club with Friday Night Mayhem, an event which provides fun and recreation for middle-schoolers.

"I think everyone has their own different opinions, but personally I don’t like it design-wise," Lira said. "West Coast Choppers has a T-shirt with a skull with a helmet on it that looks like a German World War II helmet and it has the Iron Cross on top of it. Kids read into it. Obviously it’s going to have some kind of impact."

The white supremacy movement is not a big problem in Simi Valley, according to the police department. But expressing concerned that the cross might cause an increase in racial tensions, police and school district decided the safest approach would be to prohibit it.

Other popular garb, such as Doc Martens work boots, for example, also have been banned along with the colorful laces that supremacist groups like to wear with them.

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