Pennsylvania’s Democrat nominee for U.S. Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, embraced a spelling of Braddock, Pennsylvania, during his first mayoral run that “acknowledge[d] an allegiance that many of the younger residents there have with the Crips gang,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
In a 2006 article authored by former Post-Gazette reporter Ann Belsar, Braddock’s then-Mayor Fetterman contended that two versions of the town existed. The traditional spelling of Braddock ending in “CK” referenced the older generation of citizens.
“It’s those younger people who belong to the other Braddock, the one Mr. Fetterman refers to as “B-R-A-D-D-O-C-C”, or the “O-C-C,” wrote Belsar. “That is the underground spelling for the borough, which, he said, acknowledges an allegiance that many of the younger residents there have with the Crips gang.”
In a 2015 blog published in Medium.com by Dustin Slaughter, Fetterman, who served as mayor from 2006-2019, admitted that he took on both spelling variations for campaign slogans. Fetterman explained that since “CK” is a street “reference to ‘Crip killer,’” “they turned the ‘k’ into a ‘c.’” “Crip killer” is a phrase used by the Bloods, a rival national gang. Bloods often deliberately wear Calvin Klein jeans as a tribute to the “CK” or “Crip killer” phrases.
So during my campaign, I [used] “Vote John Mayor of Braddocc” and “Vote John Mayor of Braddock” the way it’s traditionally spelled, and the reason why I did that is because there are two Braddocks, and you have to acknowledge that. We have to acknowledge that here’s the Braddock that only young people know, the Braddock of despair and decline, and they grew up in an era when they never knew there were 14 furniture stores and three movie theaters. And I caught some flak for that because some people thought I was spelling it like a gangster. No, there are two Braddocks. And we need to bring them together and agree on the way to move forward, so that’s why I spelled that the way I did. Because ultimately I carry their flag, because they’re the ones that made the difference that I won by one vote that first election.
During Fetterman’s tenure, violent crime surged between 2013 and 2018.