The Washington, D.C. City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution Tuesday urging the Washington "Redskins" to change their name. This is the second time in history that the D.C. Council has called on the team to abandon its name.
The vote 10-0 was confirmed with two members absent, including Council member Marion Barry, who supports the name-change, and one member who abstained.
In response to the vote, the Oneida Indian Nation sent a press release praising the council for standing firm against the offensive name.
"With its vote today, the D.C. City Council has placed itself firmly on the side of those who believe there should be no place for institutionalized racism within the National Football League,” said Ray Halbritter, representative and CEO of the Oneida Indian Nation. “This City Council resolution is yet another call for Washington's team owner to do the right thing by halting the callous use of the R-word and moving the team in a positive direction away from its past legacy of racial bigotry."
The Washington NFL team sent out an email blast on Monday calling on Redskins fans who live in D.C. to contact their council members and express what the team means to them. David Grosso, the at-large Council member, told NBCWashington.com that he received hundreds of emails, half of them supporting the resolution.
Grosso said that although he is a fan of the team, Snyder’s stance against changing the name sent a message to Native Americans that “your pain has less worth than our football memories.” He also said that the name was “racist and derogatory” and that those opposed to the change would fail.
Members of Congress have also joined the debate. In an interview with The Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it “probably would be a good idea if they change the name.” Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) spoke out against the team’s name last month at a symposium in D.C. timed to coincide with the NFL’s fall meeting.
During an interview with the Associated Press, President Obama said that if he owned the team he would “think seriously” about changing the team’s name.
And last month, two of the country’s leading Native American membership organizations, the National Congress of American Indians and the United South and Eastern Tribes both passed resolutions calling for an end to the name.
The resolution in D.C. comes as the national “Change the Mascot” campaign, led by the Oneida Nation, aired radio advertisements throughout the NFL football season in every city where the team has played. The ads denounce the R-word and urge Snyder to stand on the “right side of history” in the name-change debate.
“The overwhelming pressure will succeed,” Grosso said to NBCWashington.com, “This is now a movement.”