Gang-Violence Vodka Sparks Spat
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Vodka companies have many times used sex to sell the stuff at varying degrees of tastelessness, but a new brand's sales are apparently being boosted by gang violence. Southeast Red Vodka, distilled and bottled by Colorado-based Neradi3 LLC, comes in a frosted glass bottle that maps San Diego's notorious gangs on its label—all in red, a color associated with an infamous gang in the region. Locals are calling the liquor an attempt to cash in on the area's gang violence tasteless at best—and a “disaster waiting to happen” at worst. Mario Lewis, a leader of the community group 100 Strong, calls it “disgraceful” to “portray a community in gang-banging terms.” And at $20 for the 80-proof liquor, it's been flying off the shelves. San Diego accounted for the most gang-related killings in the US in the last year, and branding like this is unlikely to help alleviate the city's gang problem. Matthew T. Hall, a San Diego-based journalist, called the company hoping to get some answers for locals angry about an outsider profiteering from their region's violence problem. “If you are from southeastern San Diego, that's one thing,” he says. “If you grew up here and have pride in your neighborhood, maybe that's what this is about.” But he met with resistance from Southeast Red Vodka's spokesman: “You ain't getting no information... and I'd hate to have to sue you too. Because I really don't want to be in your article.”