In show vote, D.C. Council urges Washington Redskins to change name
November 5th, 2013
04:05 PM ET
11 months ago

In show vote, D.C. Council urges Washington Redskins to change name

Washington (CNN) – The Council of the District of Columbia approved a measure on Tuesday that urged the Washington Redskins football team to drop the word "Redskins" from its name because it is "objectionable to many Americans who consider it to be racist and derogatory."

Ten of the 13 council members voted yes, two were not in attendance and one - Yvette Alexander - voted present. Not a single vote against the measure was cast.

The measure is largely a show vote, however, because the council cannot force the team to change its name. What's more, the Redskins practice in Virginia and games are played in Maryland, although the team is associated with Washington, D.C.

Councilmember David Grosso had originally pushed a more strongly worded measure on May 1, 2013, but was rebuffed by members of the council. A slightly scaled-back version of the measure - the one that passed Tuesday - was then introduced.

Grosso's original plan had suggested the name "Redtails" in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, but the latest bill suggests no replacement name.

Before the vote, Grosso called the name "racist and derogatory."

"Native Americans throughout the country consider the term 'redskin' a racially derogatory slur akin to the 'N-word' among African-Americans or the 'W-word' among Latinos," Grosso said in a speech. "Enough is enough."

A Washington Post poll in June found that, despite outrage among politicians, the name has the broad support of Washington residents and Redskins fans.

The Post poll found that 61% of Washingtonians like the team name and two-thirds said the team should not change it. The poll also found that nearly eight in 10 self-described Redskins fans said the team should keep the name.

"As a lifelong fan of the Washington football team, I do not care what the polls indicate," Grosso said before the vote. "A name change will not in any way jeopardize the loyalty that the fans have for this team."

Grosso also lashed out at the Post before the vote, stating that he thinks "it would be a huge statement" to Dan Snyder, the team's owner, "if the Washington Post stopped using the name."

The Redskins name has come under fire for the past few months.

Members of Congress have pressured the team to stop using the name and representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation met last month in New York with executives from the National Football League.

Snyder has remained defiant, however, describing the name as a "badge of honor."

"After 81 years, the team name 'Redskins' continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come," he wrote in a letter on the team's website.

The team has gone on the offensive, asking fans to contact the D.C. Council in support of the name and dedicating a part of its website to defend the name as part of the team's heritage.

"Our past isn't just where we came from," reads the website. "It's who we are."

– CNN's Steve Almasy contributed to this report.


Filed under: Washington D.C.
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. ED1

    What a joke the Redskins name has been there longer than most people have been alive leave it alone and report something that matters.

    November 5, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Not very high on the priority list, people. Besides, Southerners ought to be up in arms about the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, since it clearly implies cowardice.

    November 5, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    If Native Americans find the word offensive, then Mr. Snyder should seriously consider the change. I haven't heard Native Americans call "The Braves, The Chiefs or The Blackhawks" derogatory.

    November 5, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. smith

    I personally think they should change the name but I fear this change could make it to where no sports team could use a person as their mascot. Which I think takes something away from the history and tradition of sports.

    November 5, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Data Driven

    "Our past isn't just where we came from," reads the website, "it's who we are."

    Wow. I think I'm going to cry.

    Wanna remember the past? How about the centuries-long genocide of the aboriginal peoples on this continent, from Yukon down to Tierra del Fuego?

    Eh, I don't watch that nonsense anyway. Call em what you want; offend who you want. Freedom of speech.

    November 5, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. freedom

    This is ridiculous. The team has private ownership. The government wants to run our sports teams now?? No one is offended. This is about control again.

    November 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They should change their name if only so that people would think about watching them play again.
    I've lived in the DC metro area for 20 years and the Deadskins suck!
    They Native Americans probably put a ju-ju up their ying-yang.
    They got RGIII and the boy got banged-out.
    Bad karma...and the tickets are not priced for the very people that still support them in spite of their lousy record.
    Change your name and start fresh you're stinking up the stadium!!

    November 5, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If they realize I wrote this about the Skins here at work I'm a dead duck!

    November 5, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Chris

    Hey ED1 Racism has been around along time also..your point?

    November 5, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    You don't see Notre Dame getting rid of their drunken Irish leprechaun.

    November 5, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. DENNA

    Darned well time. Americans have got to stop the racist nicknames. Yes, Redskins is racists. It's the name that was used in westerns in the fifties. We are better than this, aren't we?

    November 5, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "This is ridiculous. The team has private ownership. The government wants to run our sports teams now?? No one is offended. This is about control again."

    No, it's about you and your hyperbolic overreactions and breathless hysteria about imaginary gov't overreach. All the DC council did was agree to make a public statement that they think it would be appropriate for the team to change its name. The team is 100% free to ignore it and absolutely nothing involved here exerts any type of control whatsoever. Stop hyperventilating and you might be able to process enough oxygen to give your brain a chance of comprehending.

    November 5, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Mr.G

    For Pete's sake people, this country has turned into a melting pot of whining pansies. Get over yourselves and deal with issue's that truly matter. What does it really matter if a sports team is called the Washington Redskins, it's a name. Is the fact that they are called the redskins hurting anyone? Is causing insufferable pain to anyone? I didn't think so.

    My grade school's mascot use to be the warriors with an Indian head as the logo, that's been changed. My High School mascot use to be the Indians with an Indian head as it's logo as well, that too has been changed so that it's now "policially correct".

    It's getting to the point in this country where you can't do or say anything without potentially hurting someone's feelings. This country is going to end up turning into a bunch of voiceless robotic sheep that only does what what they are told when they are told to do it, but I guess that's what they are aiming for.

    November 5, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. tom l

    As a Jew, I would be proud if they renamed the team the Washington Fighting Rabbis.

    November 5, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    I told you with these GOP IDIOCY, CNN BLATENT NAGGING WE are becoming third world–Bombay to Mumbai, madness to chennai, Hollywood to Bollywood–now this redskin. Silly, stupid.

    November 5, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Roger

    I think the team needs to drop the name that is "objectionable to many Americans" by removing "Washington" from its name.

    November 5, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. The REAL Truth...

    Most intelligent folks recognize the name for what it is.. it's the name of a football team. Nothign more. It's only offensive if you are overly sensitive, or sense the opportunity to make some $$ from law suits. Ugh..
    Oh, wait.. think I want to file a lawsuit against all athletic teams that have Trojan in their name... I once went to the ancient site of Troy and feel that the use of that word is "objectionable to many Americans who consider it to be racist and derogatory.".. including me..
    How freakin' SILLY has this PC become ????

    November 5, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Jeff Frank (Ohio T Party) "Right Wing Insanity"

    CNN: "It is "objectionable to many Americans who consider it to be racist and derogatory?" These same Americans ARE what they accuse others of being.

    November 5, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    I looked it up.

    The Redskins were formed in 1932 and were called the Braves.
    They changed to the Redskins in 1933.
    So it has taken 80 years for someone to be "offended" ............. wonder where that came from?

    November 5, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Gotta love how people are ignoring that the particular word "redskins" was derogatory from its inception, unlike the alternative examples they use, such as "Trojan" or "Braves." As it says in the article, it's like naming a team the "wetbacks" or the "wops". It is fundamentally different than the alternatives people are trying to use to counter the claim that it is, in fact, a pejorative.

    November 5, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  21. rs

    Tampa Tim

    You don't see Notre Dame getting rid of their drunken Irish leprechaun.
    ___________________________
    No, but they don't call them the Micks, either.

    November 5, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Scott

    Gurgyl

    I told you with these GOP IDIOCY, CNN BLATENT NAGGING WE are becoming third world–Bombay to Mumbai, madness to chennai, Hollywood to Bollywood–now this redskin. Silly, stupid.
    _______________________________________________
    You need to improve on your grammar and spelling hard to understand you. Also what does the Republicans have to do with this??? Far as I know DC is mainly Democrat, that is why its such a cesspool and crime ridden.

    November 5, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. rs

    freedom

    This is ridiculous. The team has private ownership.
    _______________________
    No sports franchise exists without taxpayer-funded sports complexes, land deals, or tax breaks.

    November 5, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. rs

    Roger

    I think the team needs to drop the name that is "objectionable to many Americans" by removing "Washington" from its name.
    _______________________
    "Washington" is probably not bad (think President), but calling them the Senators, or Congressmen would certainly be awful!

    November 5, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. Thomas M.

    The word is blatantly offensive! So far I am the only Native I've seen post. Not only the name but the exaggerated stereotypical caricature. Lets have a Mexican team with a exaggerated caricature with a somberaro. Lets have a Jewish team with the same exaggeration, and a big nose, and offensive name. I don't understand why people feel it is okay to marginalize my people, like we are some imaginary group so easily offended. It is literally as if there were a team called the N*ggers, and a caricature with with a wide nose, and afro. With that picture in mind does it seem okay? Look up the word Redskins in the dictionary "deragatory term for a Native American". It offends "almost" all Native people I know deeply. I honestly don't understand why people don't understand this? We are the first peoples of this land, but the last remembered, and most neglected. Wake up America, after all we've gone through, and continue to go through. Just treat us with the slightest respect, because we care ourselves with dignity, and don't deserve this ongoing belittling. Per Capita we are the highest serving ethnic group in the Armed Forces, our cultures have contributed so much to this world, its time to stop with the taking, and taking, it not the land now its our dignity...We just want respect...

    November 5, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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