“For decades, community activists in Ohio have held demonstrations at the Cleveland Indians’ home opener to protest the team’s name and logo — a grinning, red-faced named Chief Wahoo that some consider racist. And in what has become another tradition, Chief Wahoo’s supporters have screamed back as they head toward the turnstiles at Progressive Field…. on Friday at Cleveland’s first home game of the season the confrontation was more crowded, more tense and more vulgar than usual.” M. Stevens and D. Waldstein, The New York Times
“The heightened atmosphere was likely in part because of the team’s decision to stop using the Chief Wahoo logo on its uniforms beginning next year — which angered some fans when it was announced in January.
Cleveland’s baseball team is just one part of a cultural conversation that stretches across the sports landscape. Many people vigorously oppose the use of Native American names and images as mascots and insignias, saying they are demeaning or worse.
Several teams use such logos, including the N.F.L.’s Washington Redskins, the N.H.L.’s Chicago Blackhawks and the N.C.A.A.’s Florida State Seminoles. But some find the Indians’ caricature, which has existed in various forms since 1947, particularly distasteful. Philip Yenyo [is] the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio. One video of this year’s demonstration, which was organized by Mr. Yenyo’s group and the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance, has been viewed more than 110,000 times.
‘People think this is just now coming up,’ Mr. Yenyo said. ‘We were never covered before. All the other demonstrations were barely touched upon.’ In another video, also produced by cleveland.com, dozens of protesters yelled, ‘Seventy years of harming the Native American community is enough’; ‘Change the name, change the logo!’; and ‘Burn, Wahoo, burn!’
In response, some fans walking to the stadium hurled profanity-laced tirades at the protesters, along with ugly names and obscene gestures…Several flaunted team jackets, jerseys and caps emblazoned with the Chief Wahoo logo. One fan made whooping noises as she walked by.
Mr. Yenyo called this year’s rally ‘a little more boisterous’ than normal, but he noted that there were no arrests and no violence. But Mr. Yenyo said that was not enough, noting that fans should expect to see protesters again next season. We’re going to continue until they change the name of the team,” he said. We want the name gone.”
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