Hours before Game 3 of the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians, an Ontario judge has ruled that the visiting team will be allowed to use their team name and logo in their playoff games at Rogers Centre.
A Toronto court heard legal arguments Monday in an effort to try to ban the name and logo of the grinning “Chief Wahoo,” who is shown with red skin and a feather in his headband.
The injunction was sought by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal, who believes staff and players should not be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo should not be broadcast, and the team should be referred to as “the Cleveland team.”
Cardinal’s lawyers argued that the name and logo was racist, and a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada’s Human Rights Act. They suggested that the team wear their spring training jerseys, which did not show the team name or logo, and that Rogers Communications be ordered not to use the logo on broadcasts.
Cardinal filed complaints to both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
A lawyer for Cleveland argued that the application asked for censorship and that it was not the proper venue to decide on Cardinal’s issue.
In the end, the judge ruled against the injunction.
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.