Cleveland, Ohio (NBC) (12/14/20)— The Cleveland Indians have decided to change their team name and could announce the plans as soon as this week, the New York Times and ESPN have reported.
It is not yet clear what name the team will use after the change. In July, the team announced that it would “determine the best path forward” for its name. That announcement came after Washington’s NFL team said it would review its name, which is a racial slur that has been long criticized. The NFL team went on to make the change and is now playing under the name Washington Football Team.
NBC News has not independently confirmed the reports and the team declined to comment.
President Donald Trump said early Monday on Twitter that the reported name change was “not good news” and called it “cancel culture at work.”
In 2018, Cleveland announced that it would drop its Chief Wahoo logo, a racist caricature, from its caps and jerseys for the 2019 season. Native American groups had long protested the image, calling it offensive.
The team’s pledge in July to look at its name came amid growing calls for racial justice following George Floyd’s death and the widespread protests that followed. In that statement the team said that it was “committed to making a positive impact in our community” and that it had “ongoing discussions” on the issue.
At the time, Trump also tweeted his objections, saying that “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness.”
The name of Cleveland’s team has been in use since 1915.
The Oneida Nation of New York, which led the Change the Mascot Movement, said in a statement to ESPN that Cleveland’s decision to change the team’s name is “the culmination of decades of work.”
“Groups like the National Congress of American Indians passed resolutions for decades on this… Cleveland got out in front of it and they’re leading, and rather than having this hanging over their heads, they’re charting a new path.”
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