Oakmont hand sign identical to that of infamous gang

The school’s administration addresses student concerns that the “Viking Horns” hand sign has been identified as resembling La Mara Salvatrucha’s “Devil Horns” gang sign.


Caleb Leung

Students using the “Viking Horns” hand sign for the Alma Mater, at a school rally.

Caleb Leung, Staff Writer

Several students at Oakmont have pointed out that the “Viking Horns” sign is indistinguishable from the “Devil Horns” sign of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, an international criminal gang based in California.

The sign is popular at Oakmont school rallies and games, and is used for the Alma Mater at the end of school rallies. 

It is formed by extending the index and little fingers, forming two “horns,” and holding the middle and ring fingers down with the thumb. This sign is also the main gang sign used by MS-13.

According to the US Department of Justice, the gang is heavily involved in illegal enterprises, and is notorious for its use of violence. MS-13 primarily targets minors and Hispanics.

One student also pointed out that in addition to sharing the same hand sign, Oakmont’s school colors, blue and white, are also the colors used by MS-13.

“The fact that we sport these colors at rallies and sports games, the same places where the ‘Viking Horns’ would be used, can only be described as problematic,” junior Jayden Ho said.

A few students expressed concern on the use of the “Viking Horns” hand sign.

“Since the symbol universally means devil horns, and with MS-13 using it too, I believe we need a new sign,” sophomore Colin Davis said.

David Wallace, a teacher at Oakmont for 19 years, shared his thoughts on the use of the hand sign.

Wallace explained how he felt that the problem wouldn’t be with the sign itself, but rather the intention or the use. He gave the example of how an older salute used by Oakmont decades ago was revised to the “Viking Horns” sign today.

The former sign, a salute with the palm extended, facing up, had some problems in its use as many students turned it into a Fascist salute. The open palm sign was then changed to the “Viking Horns” sign used today.

Wallace then said that because any sign could have an offensive meaning somewhere, the most important thing about using a sign would be the intention of using said sign.

“Someone can always find something [wrong],” Wallace said. “So if we understand that the intention is pure and innocent and go with that, I think it’s best to start with the belief that someone has good intentions, until it’s proven otherwise.”

Dr. Govea, the principal at Oakmont, after meeting with the admin team and the school resource officer, said that she didn’t feel that the use of the “Viking Horns” sign is a problem regarding safety.

“We are very fortunate to live and go to school in a community with lower incidents of crime and gang activity compared to other neighboring cities,” Dr. Govea said. “Using our Viking Horns to express our school pride is acceptable and would be highly unlikely to warrant retaliation from people who are gang affiliated from the surrounding cities.”

Roseville is, in fact, a relatively safe city. However, it isn’t free of crime and gang activity. Dr. Govea stated that the school resource officer works to keep Oakmont safe and gang-free, and students can do their job to help.

“If you or anyone on campus believes that any student on campus could be associated with any gang, or La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in particular, we ask that you report it immediately,” Dr. Govea said. “Our SRO investigates those allegations to ensure our school remains gang free.”