Tag Archives: Washington

Redskins to Drop Name, Yielding to Pressure From Sponsors and Activists

The N.F.L. team in Washington announced the move on Monday and will continue its search for a new name and logo.

The N.F.L. team in Washington announced Monday that it would drop its logo and “Redskins” from its name, yielding to sponsors and Native American activists who have long criticized it as a racist slur.

The team, one of the oldest in the N.F.L., did not announce a new name on Monday as it continues a review to evaluate possibilities.

“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,’’ the statement said.

The decision to abandon the name after nearly 90 years came just 10 days after the team said it would reconsider the name. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, had stridently defended the name for years.

Snyder said the new name, when it was chosen, would “take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”

The decision to change the name by one of the country’s most valuable professional sports franchises comes after hundreds of universities and schools have abandoned team names and mascots with Native American symbols. Professional teams like the Kansas City Chiefs of the N.F.L. and the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball have resisted changing their names and logos, though the Indians dropped the mascot Chief Wahoo last year and recently said they would review the team name.

Washington, though, has been in the spotlight, in part because of its long and checkered history. The team’s founder, George Preston Marshall, named the team the Redskins, which he considered a nod to bravery. Marshall was the last owner in the N.F.L. to sign a Black player, and only under pressure from the federal government.

Last month, Washington removed Marshall’s name from inside its stadium and at its training facility. The city of Washington also removed a tribute to him that was in front of the team’s old home, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

Snyder’s shift from total resistance to grudging acceptance in just a few weeks has been remarkably swift in a league that often moves forward deliberately, if at all. But after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in late May, businesses of all kinds have come under pressure to increase diversity and change policies to emphasize antiracism.


At the end of June, some of the team’s biggest sponsors, including FedEx, Nike and Pepsi, received letters from investors who called on the companies to cut their ties with the team. On July 2, FedEx, which pays about $8 million a year to have its name on the team’s stadium in Landover, Md., told the Redskins in a letter that if the team did not change its name it would ask that its name be taken off the stadium at the end of the coming season.

The next day, July 3, the team said a change was likely to be forthcoming, when it began a “thorough review of the team’s name,” after weeks of discussions with the N.F.L. Nike stopped selling the team’s gear, and WalmartTarget and Amazon — some of the country’s largest retailers — said they would stop selling Washington’s merchandise on their websites.

The boycott came after decades of pressure on the team to change the name, which many people (and some dictionaries) consider to be offensive. In 1992, Native American activists began a campaign to compel the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team’s “redskin” trademark, a legal battle that the Supreme Court ended in 2017, finding that even potentially disparaging trademarks are protected by the First Amendment.

In 2014, 50 U.S. senators sent a letter to the N.F.L. urging the league to step in. And across the country, waves of universities and schools abandoned mascots and sports team names with Native American symbols.

But more than 2,200 high schools still use Native American imagery in their names or mascots, according to a database of mascot names.

All the while, Snyder, who purchased the Washington team in 1999, remained steadfast. “We will never change the name of the team,” he said in 2013, a stance he maintained even in the face of pushback from activists, politicians and some fans.

What finally changed was, seemingly, wider American society around the team. After the death of Floyd, there has been a widespread reconsideration of statues, flags, symbols and mascots considered to be racist or celebrating racist history.

Now that the team has let go of its current name, it will have to find a replacement, a process that requires navigating trademarks and the league’s many licensing deals with partners and can often take years. Teams also want to use the name, logo and even new colors to forge a new identity, a process that can include speaking with sponsors, fans and other constituents.

Ed O’Hara, who has designed team names and logos for more than 30 years, said that dropping the existing name first will buy time for Snyder to find a replacement. The team’s existing colors are unique and powerful, he said. A good name, though, should have an easy connection to a mascot, be easy to say and be connected to the market where the team plays.

“The name is always the hardest part,” he said. “You get one chance to make this right for the next 80 years.”

This report by Ken Belson and  was first published The New York Times on July 13, 2020.


Apaches Rally At Capitol, Vowing To Continue Fighting For Sacred Oak Flat

Naelyn Pike at Apache Stronghold Rally

Naelyn Pike at Apache Stronghold Rally

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Apache protesters completed their cross-country journey from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona to Washington, D.C., with a Wednesday rally on the lawn of the Capitol building, protesting Congress’ sale of their sacred Oak Flat to foreign mining conglomerates.

The area known as Oak Flat is part of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, and the Apache have used it for generations in young women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower removed it from consideration for mining activities in recognition of its natural and cultural value. But in December 2014, during the final days of the previous Congress, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added a rider to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that opened the land to mining conglomerates Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

That change led to this week’s protests in Washington. Wendsler Nosie Sr. and his granddaughter, 16-year-old Naelyn Pike, led the Apache Stronghold coalition with speeches, prayers and songs, vowing to save land that is holy to them. At a separate rally Tuesday, they were joined by over 200 supporters — many representing faith groups in solidarity with the Apache — as well as Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who introduced legislation in June that would once again protect the land from mining. The bill has received support from the Sierra Club, National Congress of American Indians and tribes throughout the country.

“I’ve been fighting Congress on this issue in my life for, God, over 40 years,” Nosie told The Huffington Post. “Now everybody has that great sense that the American Indians, with the religions that we have, need to come to the forefront.”

“This is a violation of sacred sites and a violation of trust responsibility, and continues a historic pattern of neglecting and overlooking and ignoring the rights of Native people across this country,” Grijalva told The Huffington Post.

Oak Flat was originally part of the old San Carlos reservation, which was called “Hell’s 40 Acres” by the soldiers stationed there in the 1800s. It functioned as a prisoner-of-war camp for the Apache during their decades-long struggle against the United States and Mexico. Not far from Oak Flat is a place called “Apache Leap,” where Apache warriors plunged off a cliff to their death rather than surrender to the United States cavalry in 1870. This is the land of Geronimo, Cochise and Mangas Coloradas.

The protesters say the proposed Resolution Copper mine would destroy all that history.

“John McCain opened up the worst history in America,” said Nosie. “He opened it by attacking us, he opened it by attacking our religion and approving [a bill] to destroy it.”

In the tradition of leaders and generations past, the organizers of the Apache Stronghold are fighting to protect their rights to pray, worship and come of age in their sacred homelands.


Apache Stronghold Rally

“It’s like taking away a church,” Pike said. “But the thing about Oak Flat is it’s worse, because you can rebuild a church. Oak Flat will be completely destroyed and it could never come back.”While many are pushing to save Oak Flat, the fate of Apache holy land rests on the success of Grijalva’s bill — a long shot.

Although the bill has 17 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, the congressman is concerned that it will be difficult to get a hearing in the natural resources subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, which is chaired by Don Young (R-Alaska), a representative that some view as hostile to Native rights.

“It’s Don Young’s way or the highway when it comes to that committee,” Grijalva said.

Young’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But it has been even more difficult for Grijalva to convince members of the Senate to take on McCain, an influential senator who chairs the Armed Services Committee and sits on the Committee on Indian Affairs.

Grijalva is still looking for a senator to introduce companion legislation, although he listed a number of potential allies.

Although Native Americans have been guaranteed the protection of their sacred sites for decades through the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act, opponents say the sale of Oak Flat tramples over that law and sets a precedent for Congress to let big business undermine Native rights to land and worship.

Apache Stronghold Rally

Apache Stronghold Rally

“This is a precedent setter, because if we do not repeal this portion of [the NDAA bill], then sacred sites and religious burial sites — all the things that are by law protected — are suddenly expendable, which sets a precedent for other parts of Indian Country,” said Grijalva. “If we are to protect sacred sites, and with this fight on Oak Flat build the profile and the significance of sacred sites to Indian people, then we are setting a precedent in other places as well.”A group of Native Hawaiians are currently fighting to protect Mauna Kea from a massive telescope proposed on their sacred mountain. And on Monday, the Pit River Tribe in California won an appeal to protect their sacred Medicine Lake from geothermal developers.

“This coalition — this awareness — is building,” said Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Nation, in his closing remarks at Wednesday’s rally. “It keeps building every day. So let’s keep together. Let’s stay united. And let’s show the world out there that in the United States of America, freedom of religion still lives!”

“We’re not going to stop fighting,” said Pike. “If they take Oak Flat away, they’re taking a piece of my heart away. They’re taking my identity away — but I’m not going to let that happen.”

“If I die, I die a proud Apache woman because I fought like my ancestors,” she continued. “I fought for those future generations.”


Redskins Trademark Ordered Cancelled By Federal Judge


Erik Brady / USA TODAY Sports

The Washington NFL team lost in court Wednesday when a federal judge ordered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to schedule cancellation of six federal trademark registrations owned by the club, ruling that the team’s name — “Redskins” — was disparaging to a significant composite of Native Americans when the marks were originally granted.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee emphasized that the team remains free to use the name as it chooses and that the ruling means only that the team loses the specific legal protections of its federal registrations, which remain in effect until all potential appeals in the case are heard.

Lee’s ruling affirms the findings of the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which last year ruled in favor of Amanda Blackhorse and four other Native Americans who sought cancellation of the registrations. The team had sued in district court to overturn that ruling.

The team is likely to appeal Wednesday’s decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Today’s ruling by the District Court resoundingly affirmed the Trademark Office’s decision that the team’s trademark registrations should never have been issued,” attorney Jesse Witten said in a statement. He represents Blackhorse and the other petitioners in the case.

Lee rejected the team’s contention that trademark cancellation infringes on its free-speech rights. “The federal trademark program is government speech and is therefore exempt from First Amendment scrutiny,” Lee wrote in the conclusion of his 70-page ruling.

The team argued in a hearing before Lee last month in Alexandria, Va., that it could not be proved that a significant composite of Native Americans found the term “redskins” disparaging during the years that the federal registrations were granted. But Lee ruled that “the evidence before the Court supports the legal conclusion that between 1967 and 1990, the Redskins Marks consisted of matter that ‘may disparage’ a substantial composite of Native Americans.”

Those legal terms — “significant composite” and “may disparage” — come from the Lanham Act, which bars federal trademark registration for marks that may disparage or bring into disrepute particular groups or individuals. The original trademark case against the team using the Lanham Act came in 1992, when Suzan Harjo led a group of Native Americans who challenged the federal registrations.

The patent office’s appeals board ruled in favor of Harjo and her fellow petitioners in 1999, but the team appealed in federal court and won in 2003 when the court ruled the petitioners had waited too long after turning 18 years old to file their complaint. The Blackhorse case, which began in 2006, used younger petitioners. Lee ruled against the team’s argument that the Blackhorse petitioners waited too long not only by citing their ages, but “because of the public interest at stake.”

Even if the team were to lose all appeals, it could continue to enforce its trademarks in state courts and under common law. But team attorney Robert Raskopf argued in last month’s hearing before Lee that losing the circled R that comes with federal trademark registrations would be a significant blow to the team, which has invested money and goodwill in its marks for decades.

The decision also figures to be a loss for the team in terms of public relations. The fight against the team name, which goes back decades, was re-energized last year when the patent office’s appeals board issued its ruling.

Source: http://usat.ly/1Mf5i

Hundreds protest death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Washington

Marchers carry posters of Antonio Zambrano-Montes during a protest over the police killing on Tuesday of the Mexican-born apple picker, in Pasco, Wash., Feb. 14, 2015. Photo by Rajah Bose/The New York Times/Redux

Marchers carry posters of Antonio Zambrano-Montes during a protest over the police killing on Tuesday of the Mexican-born apple picker, in Pasco, Wash., Feb. 14, 2015. Photo by Rajah Bose/The New York Times/Redux


Several hundred people took to the streets of Pasco, Washington, Saturday to protest the fatal police shooting of a man who allegedly pelted officers with rocks.

The protests appeared to be peaceful. Demonstrators chanted “We want justice!” and held signs aloft bearing slogans like “Shoot me on the leg but don’t kill me!” and photos of the orchard worker and father of two.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot by Pasco police officers shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, after he allegedly pelted officers with rocks, police said. The shooting was captured on video that appears to show Zambrano-Montes moving away from police when he was shot.

Some demonstrators chanted slogans in Spanish. Pasco is a city of about 68,000, a little more than half of whom are Hispanic, according to Census data. Mexico’s consul in Seattle called the shooting “the unwarranted use of lethal force against an unarmed Mexican national” in a letter to the Pasco police chief.

Protesters held a rally at Volunteer Park and marched to Lewis Street and 10th Avenue, where Zambrano-Montes was shot. Pasco police estimated the crowd at 500 people.

The Franklin County coroner is considering calling a rare coroner’s inquest to determine whether the shooting was justified. Antonio Zambrano-Montes’ family has filed a notice of claim and intend to sue the city for $25 million.