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D.C. Council urges Washington Redskins to change name

Posted at 4:45 PM, Nov 05, 2013

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Council of the District of Columbia approved a measure on Tuesday that urged the Washington Redskins football team to drop the word “Redskins” from its name because it is “objectionable to many Americans who consider it to be racist and derogatory.”

Ten of the 13 council members voted yes, two were not in attendance and one — Yvette Alexander — voted present. Not a single vote against the measure was cast.

The measure is largely a show vote, however, because the council cannot force the team to change its name. What’s more, the Redskins practice in Virginia and games are played in Maryland, although the team is associated with Washington, D.C.

Councilmember David Grosso had originally pushed a more strongly worded measure on May 1, 2013, but was rebuffed by members of the council. A slightly scaled-back version of the measure — the one that passed Tuesday — was then introduced.

Grosso’s original plan had suggested the name “Redtails” in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, but the latest bill suggests no replacement name.

Before the vote, Grosso called the name “racist and derogatory.”

“Native Americans throughout the country consider the term ‘redskin’ a racially derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African-Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos,” Grosso said in a speech. “Enough is enough.”

A Washington Post poll in June found that, despite outrage among politicians, the name has the broad support of Washington residents and Redskins fans.

The Post poll found that 61% of Washingtonians like the team name and two-thirds said the team should not change it. The poll also found that nearly eight in 10 self-described Redskins fans said the team should keep the name.

“As a lifelong fan of the Washington football team, I do not care what the polls indicate,” Grosso said before the vote. “A name change will not in any way jeopardize the loyalty that the fans have for this team.”

Grosso also lashed out at the Post before the vote, stating that he thinks “it would be a huge statement” to Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, “if the Washington Post stopped using the name.”

The Redskins name has come under fire for the past few months.

Members of Congress have pressured the team to stop using the name and representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation met last month in New York with executives from the National Football League.

Snyder has remained defiant, however, describing the name as a “badge of honor.”

“After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” he wrote in a letter on the team’s website.

The team has gone on the offensive, asking fans to contact the D.C. Council in support of the name and dedicating a part of its website to defend the name as part of the team’s heritage.

“Our past isn’t just where we came from,” reads the website. “It’s who we are.”

CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.