FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 31, 2018
Contact: Robbie Sherwood
PHOENIX, State Capitol – Publicly funded sports facilities in Arizona will no longer broadcast the Washington Redskins professional football team's name under legislation announced today.
Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle (District 7), introduced House Bill 2499 with the support of Navajo Nation Vice President Johnathon Nez and other community leaders to support Indigenous people in Arizona and to eliminate racially insensitive terminology from being displayed in publicly funded arenas.
"We still have this racial slur as a mascot, nearly a hundred years later. The NFL profits from it. They market it. They brand it," said Descheenie. "If we are choosing to spend money on these publicly funded stadiums, I do not think that we should make offending our Indigenous brothers and sisters the official policy of the State of Arizona."
This will not infringe on 1st amendment rights according to the 2015 Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans supreme court ruling. This bill still allows the team and fans to wear Washington team gear. And does not stop any Arizona high school from using the term in its sports facilities.
Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear (District 4), is in support of House Bill 2499 and its elimination of racially destructive language. "Mascots and racial epithets are not positive. They represent images and memories of destruction and death," said Peten.
"Culture is the underpinning to what is considered normal, to what is considered socially permissible. It essentially preempts most of our decisions as to what is not offensive," said Descheenie. "The use of the team's name is perpetuating a culture of racism."