By a 10-0 vote, the city council in Washington D.C. Tuesday approved a resolution calling for a new name for Washington’s professional football team., WJLA reported. One member of the 13-person council voted present, two others were absent. It is the second time the city council has formally urged the team to change its name, which owner Daniel Snyder has said he would never do.
The resolution itself is symbolic — it has no power over what the football team actually does. But it comes at a time when controversy about the name is only escalating as Native American groups and media organizations continue to challenge its continued use, and the franchise still asked supporters to call the council and urge a vote against the resolution. The NFL has stood behind the name, maintaining that it is Snyder’s decision alone, though the league’s position has softened slightly as the controversy has grown.
The Oneida Nation, one of the group’s leading the fight against the name, praised the resolution in a statement.
“With its unanimous 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,” Ray Halbritter, a representative of the Oneida Nation, said. “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.”
In addition to Native American groups like Oneida and the National Congress of American Indians, the name has drawn criticism prominent politicians like President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the House’s only two Native American members, and media figures around the country, a growing list of which have stopped using the name altogether. In a show of solidarity, a group of Washington’s African-American clergy leaders recently decided to start preaching against the name’s continued use. A group of Native Americans is currently suing the team in federal trademark court, arguing that the name is a racist term and as such, should not be granted trademark protections under federal law.