‘Cleveland Indians’ name, logo faces court challenge before game 3 of ALCS

The team is aware  that their logo is problematic, as they previously relegated it to secondary status.
The team is aware that their logo is problematic, as they previously relegated it to secondary status. (Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

There is a storm brewing over tonight’s baseball game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians, and not about who will win the game.

Douglas Cardinal, a prominent Canadian architect and activist for indigenous peoples, filed an application with the Superior Court of Ontario challenging the use of Cleveland’s name and logo in Ontario. He also filed complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

"Use of the team name and the 'Chief Wahoo' logo clearly constitutes discrimination contrary to section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code and section 5 of the Canadian Human Rights Act,” Cardinal’s lawyer Michael Swinwood said. He adds, “It also violates my client's right to equal treatment and the rights of Indigenous Peoples across Canada and everywhere else the name and logo are used."

Cardinal demands that their name and logo to be banned in Ontario and that Rogers Communications, Major League Baseball and the team stop using the name and logo.

The Indians’ logo is “Chief Wahoo”, a caricature of a red-faced, toothy man with over-exaggerated features, which many consider to be a racist depiction of an aboriginal man. CBC Radio pop culture critic Jesse Wente criticized the use of the mascot before tonight’s game and called it “utterly inappropriate and racist.”

The team is aware that their logo is problematic, as they relegated it to secondary status years ago and removed it from their caps and batting helmets years ago. However, they refused to get rid of it completely and still use it on the sleeve of their jerseys, which continues to infuriate people, including Cardinal.

Long before Cardinal filed his complaints, Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth took issue with the team’s name and actually stopped using it in 1992, after he received a fan letter that explained why the team name and logo was so offensive to indigenous people.

Many support Howarth on his refusal to say the name, including former Ontario premier Bob Rae and current Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne:

Even churches have joined the #NotYourMascot movement and urged their followers to do the same.

The court is currently in the process hearing the application and should issue a decision shortly. 

Update: The court dismissed Cardinal's application to ban the Cleveland Indians name and logo.
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