Protest slams racist Washington team name

SANTA CLARA — Protesters gathered in front of the Santa Clara Convention Center before Sunday’s 49ers game to rally against the Washington football organization’s racially-offensive name.

Several Native American activist groups urged fans heading to the stadium to “change the name, change the mascot” of the controversial Washington football team using chants, posters and megaphones to voice their pleas.

The Washington organization has been under increased national scrutiny due to Native Americans like Castro Valley resident Daniel Luna being offended by the team’s derogatory name and offensive logo:

“That word [Redskins] is a racial slur, and it disrespects all native people … It was always used in a derogatory way, accompanied with such adjectives as lying, thieving, all those. It was never used in a positive way. So there’s no way, the way I understand it, that it honors native people.”

People from a variety of nationalities and races joined the fight against racial injustice, jeering at Washington fans sporting the offensive insignia but remaining peaceful despite their outrage.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Luna said that the response outside Levi’s Stadium was met with mixed reaction, with many Washington fans disregarding the group’s message regarding their team:

“The fans coming for the Washington team, they’re not so responsive to our issue … That’s a name describing us, so they should try to meet some native people and see what they think about it.”

Protests such as those outside Levi’s Stadium have followed the Washington team across America during the 2014 season.

Luna said activism against racist mascots in sports dates back to the 60s, though the push to change Washington’s name has reached new heights, with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office canceling the team’s registered trademark in an attempt to push the team to change the offensive moniker.

Thus far, both team owner Daniel Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have refused to change the name despite the mounting controversy.

In May 2013, Snyder stated matter-of-factly his hard-nosed stance on the issue in an interview with USA Today.

“We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”


Follow @SFBay and @ShawnWhelchel on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the San Francisco 49ers.