A legal challenge begins Monday that could ban the Cleveland Indians baseball team from using their team name and logo in Ontario.
As the team battles the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, a Toronto court will begin to hear arguments by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal.
His lawyer will ask the court to prevent Major League Baseball and Rogers Communications, which is broadcasting the ALCS, from using the team’s name and logo.
Rogers also owns the Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, the stadium the team calls home.
The logo, called Chief Wahoo, is largely referred to as “the most offensive image in sports.” It features a cartoon man who has red skin and a feather in his headband.
Cardinal’s representatives believe players and staff shouldn’t be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo shouldn’t be broadcast, and the team should be referred to simply as “the Cleveland team.”
Controversy over Cleveland’s nickname has existed for a while, but returned last week when Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth said in an interview he won’t be using the word “Indians” during the American League Championship Series and hasn’t for the past 25 years.
Howarth told The Fan 590 on Tuesday he stopped using First Nations nicknames after he got a letter from an aboriginal fan after Toronto defeated Atlanta in the 1992 World Series.
For over 25 years, Native American groups have filled the streets outside the stadium to protest Chief Wahoo’s association with the team. Groups, such as the Cleveland American Indian Movement, believe the logo is disrespectful and offensive to Native American people.
The Cleveland American Indian Movement has filed legal complaints over the name several times. In 1972, the group unsuccessfully sued Cleveland Baseball for libel and slander over the Indians name and filed a human rights complaint in 1999.
Most recently, the group created a petition to remove the name “Progressive” from Cleveland’s stadium.
“We firmly believe that attaching the Progressive name to institutionalized racism directly contradicts this proclaimed core value, and sends the insidious message that racism is somehow ‘progressive,’” read the petition, started in May.
The petition only garnered half of the 1,000 signatures it needed.