A Cleveland Indians fan, painted in redface and donned in a faux Native American headdress, justified his brazen actions Friday afternoon by stating his attire was not racist – just “Cleveland Pride.”
According to Deadspin, the man, who goes only by the name “Rodriguez,” approached Cleveland American Indian Movement member Robert Roche of the Apache Nation just before the season opener at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
The man allegedly proceeded to taunt Roche and the protesters by stating that Chief Wahoo is not offensive and that “it’s Cleveland pride,” Deadspin reported.
Photos posted on Clevescene.com show Roche and other protesters outside the stadium with banners that read, “People Not Mascots,” “WE ARE NOT HONORED” and “Little RED SAMBO Must Go!”
The photos also show Rodriguez and other Cleveland Indians fans approaching the protesters.
One of the photos was posted on Twitter by user @ClevelandFrowns, a Cleveland-based blogger and attorney. Social media users immediately retweeted the image and posted it to Facebook with the expected response of both disgust and approbation.
Michael Baldwin, a journalist at Cleveland’s ABC affiliate News Channel 5, simply tweeted “that is awful,” whereas Twitter user @killertech216 responded with “dude fuck the native [sic] Americans. Chief wahoo and the name the Indians stay.”
Along with Rodriguez’s comments and actions, protesters also faced piercing diatribes from fans making their way into the stadium from nearby bars.
Deadspin reported that fans hurled insults at the protesters. They flipped off the group, shouted “(expletive) off!” and “go back to the reservation.”
ESPN reported Wednesday that some fans were expected to arrive at the game sans the image of Chief Wahoo on their jerseys and hats.
A campaign to remove the image of Chief Wahoo, aptly titled “DeChiefing,” has gained momentum again as the 2014 season launched across the nation.
On March 11, Dennis Brown of Columbus, Ohio, tweeted an image of his Cleveland Indians jersey without the Chief Wahoo logo on its left sleeve. Brown allegedly removed it in protest of the mascot.
“It wasn’t easy but I de-chiefed my @Indians road jersey,” he wrote. Four hours later, Brown tweeted: “Overwhelmed by response to this picture, mostly negative, but I’m comfortable with my decision and position.”
There were no reports of any arrests or assaults following the confrontation Friday.