D.C. Council Urges Redskins to Change Name

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013  |  Updated 5:51 PM EDT
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D.C. Council Urges Redskins to Change Name

For the second time in its history, the D.C. Council has called on the Washington Redskins to change their name.

Without debate and with only a few activists in the room, the council voted 10-0 to approve a resolution Tuesday urging the team to abandon the name, which some consider offensive to Native Americans. One member abstained, and two were absent, including Council member Marion Barry, who supports a name change.

"I'm a red man, not a redskin," WPFW talk show host Jay Winter Nightwolf said. "My people are red people, not redskins."

"With its vote today, the D.C. City Council has placed itself firmly on the side of those who believe there should be no place for institutionalized racism within the National Football League," Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said. "This City Council resolution is yet another call for Washington's team owner to do the right thing by halting the callous use of the R-word and moving the team in a positive direction away from its past legacy of racial bigotry."

The team sent out a blast email Monday urging Redskins fans who live in the District to reach out to Council members to express what the team means to them. At-large Council member David Grosso, who introduced the resolution, said he received hundreds of emails and half of them supported the resolution. Grosso called the name "racist and derogatory" and predicted that those opposed to it would ultimately prevail.

"The overwhelming pressure will succeed," he said. "This is now a movement."

Grosso said he is a fan of the team, but he said Snyder's position on the name sends a message to Native Americans that "your pain has less worth than our football memories."

The Council has no power over the team, which plays its home games in Maryland and has its training facility in Virginia. It previously called for a name change in 2001.

President Barack Obama said recently that he would consider changing the name if he owned the team. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has called the name "a badge of honor" but said he respects the feelings of those who are offended.

An Associated Press poll released in May found that 79 percent of Americans believed the name should not be changed, while only 11 percent thought it should be changed.

Several journalists and publications have opted to stop using the name in print. Representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation met last month with league officials to push for a name change. The group has also been running radio ads critical of the name in cities where the Redskins play.

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