With mounting pressure on the Kansas City Chiefs to take meaningful action, a group of fans didn’t let the team’s appearance at Super Bowl LV go to waste.
Indigenous protestors from the Kansas City area drove down to Tampa last week and protested outside of Raymond James Stadium on Sunday ahead of the Chiefs’ matchup with the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, urging the Chiefs to change their team name.
A crowd of protestors are in Tampa near Raymond James Stadium calling for the Chiefs to change their name, mascot, and the chop. The group consists of several people from Lawrence, Kansas who say they've done this at every Chiefs home game. @KCTV5 pic.twitter.com/B4rqUFHufB
— Greg Payne (@GregKCTV5) February 7, 2021
“The thing is they’re honoring Native Americans by having a Native American as a mascot, and there’s really no honor in that,” One protestor told Greg Payne of KCTV5. “Again, the Chiefs are named after a man who culturally appropriated Native Americans.”
The Kansas City-area group was joined by several others, including the Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality group. They stood out in front of the stadium on Sunday, at times getting into contentious exchanges with fans making their way into the game.
The protests came after groups raised multiple billboards in Kansas City calling for the team to change its name and ditch the tomahawk chop — something fans did while the drum beat played when the Chiefs took the field on Sunday night.
“Why do we have to fight for our own dignity?” St. Petersburg native Stuart Flores told the Kansas City Star. “We’re not mascots.”
Chiefs changed some fan policies amid mounting pressure
The Chiefs made changes to their fan policies before the season started, including banning fans from wearing headdresses or Native American-themed face paint to games. The team also pledged to review the tomahawk chop chant, and cheerleaders have stopped using the chop motion.
Chiefs president Mark Donovan has said that the team will keep discussing the issue, and that their goal is to “honor Native American heritage while celebrating the fan experience.”
“Now the team wants to backtrack and say we are being culturally appropriate and we are being respectful of indigenous people by saying no headdresses [are allowed at games],” FIREE co-founder Alicia Norris told The Associated Press last week. “And that is a good start, but the fans are still operating if it is an indigenous-type atmosphere because you are still called the Chiefs. And you still do this movement that looks like a tomahawk chop, but we are going to call it a drum beat instead. It is kind of silly. Just change it.”
The Washington Football Team changed its name last year after years of criticism over the racist nickname it held for years, and Cleveland’s baseball team announced it would change its name in the near future, too. The Atlanta Braves have received similar criticism, but said they won’t change their name.
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