‘It’s derogatory’: one man’s four-decade fight against his town’s Native ‘mascot’ (The Guardian)

On a recent Friday evening, the teenage daughter of the then mayor-elect of Morris, Illinois, about 60 miles south-west of Chicago, led her high school’s marching band on to the football field wearing a headdress, face paint and clothes resembling Native regalia.

As the band played the “war cry” for the pre-game event, the student, with her reddish blond hair in braids, stood in a wide stance in the middle of the field with her arms crossed.

It was a familiar scene for Morris Community high school, a school of about 850 students, none of whom are Native, according to a 2019 Illinois report card. Its mascot has long been “the Redskins”, a term widely considered a racial slur against Native Americans.

Current and former students told the Guardian most home football games involve a white student who has been named “chief” dressed in an outfit meant to resemble Native regalia.

But it is this practice, along with the school’s mascot, that Ted Trujillo – considered the only enrolled tribal member of a federally recognized tribe living in the small city and an alumnus of the school – has been fighting against for nearly four decades.

“It’s racist. It’s derogatory. It stereotypes a whole race of people,” Trujillo, 51, told the Guardian. “It appropriates our sacred culture and traditions. A headdress has meaning in the Native world; the regalia, everything has meaning.”

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Photo by All-Pro Reels / Joe Glorioso

Outrage at video showing child who was maced by police at Seattle protest (The Guardian)

Standing among a group of peaceful anti-racism protesters in downtown Seattle on a recent Saturday afternoon, Mando Avery held his seven-year-old son’s hand as he and three generations of his African American family finished a prayer with members of their church.

Only feet away, Evan Hreha, 34, a hairstylist, arrived at the protests alone.

That was when, Avery said, out of nowhere, a police officer fired mace at the group. It hit his son square in the face.

As the young boy screamed and clutched on to his father, Hreha caught it all on camera. He confronted the officer he believed had maced the boy and told him the footage was going online. He then posted it on social media.

The footage captures the outrage of protesters after the boy is maced who demand to know why police sprayed a child with the chemical irritant, and made no attempt to help.

Since then, Hreha has been arrested and spent two days in jail for what some are calling police retribution for a video which went viral. The young boy is still traumatized, reeling from the chemical burn on his cheek and asking his parents what he did to deserve it.

“I would say that you were targeting my boy,” Avery told the Guardian, asked what he would say to police.

“I don’t know if you were trying to set an example and strike fear into him. You did a great job.”

What upsets him most, Avery said, is that officers and a group of emergency medical technicians standing about a block away did not step in to help.

“No officer, who’s paid to protect, chose to stand up, break the ranks, go help this child,” he said.

“I just don’t understand how any of them can sleep.”

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Photo by Steve Kaiser

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