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Native peoples protest at S.F. Giants ballpark

Published Jun 4, 2009 8:29 PM

Local Native activists and their supporters demonstrated May 25 against the Atlanta Braves baseball team outside AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Dee Allen
WW photo: Joan Marquardt

Tony Gonzales, spokesperson for the local American Indian Movement-West chapter, stated that the misuse of the term “braves” and the “tomahawk chop” gesture “are offensive to American Indian people.” He said that the AIM fight to boycott the Atlanta Braves baseball team for their use of racist logos and negative depictions of Indigenous peoples would be taken next to the S.F. Board of Supervisors, and “across the whole country.”

According to AIM-West’s press release: “The National Indian Education Association recently adopted a resolution condemning the use of racist and stereotypical images by sports and media. ... We should look at this problem as an issue of racial injustice for people of all colors. ... Join with us and support the human rights and dignity of the First Peoples of this land!”

One demonstrator, Dee Allen, who identified as “African-American, Cherokee and a little bit Italian,” expressed that he was insulted by the use of the “chop” by the Atlanta Braves fans walking past him into the ballpark. However, some of the baseball fans in attendance at the game expressed their support for the protest.

Another demonstrator held up a very large photo of wrongly imprisoned Lakota Native leader Leonard Peltier. Others chanted, “Stop the chop!” and “Boycott the Braves!”

Quanah Brightman, vice president of United Native Americans Inc., said that the San Francisco Giants were racist, too. Brightman stated that he had worked for the Giants at the AT&T ballpark until he spoke up in opposition to a non-Indian food vendor in the ballpark selling “Indian Fried Bread.” He sued the management for wrongful termination and won. Pointing to the pavement and the entrance to the ball field, Brightman said, “This is Ohlone people’s land. How many Native Americans are employed here today? None!”

Similar demonstrations were planned for the next two nights and at future games played by sports teams with racist names or mascots, such as the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians. For information about further activities, contact eltonyg@earthlink.net.