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Under new pressure, Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins reconsider names

Daniel Clemens looks into the empty ballpark at Progressive Field, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Cleveland. Clemens, a season ticket holder, had tickets for the opening day baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers. The game was postponed due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — Amid new pressure sparked by a national movement to correct racial wrongdoings, the Cleveland Indians said they will review their long-debated nickname.

“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement Friday night. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.”

The move mirrors one by the NFL’s Washington Redskins, who earlier in the day said they are embarking on a “thorough review” of their name, which has been deemed as offensive by Native American groups for decades.

There have been previous efforts to get the Indians to rename themselves. But following the death George Floyd in Minnesota and other examples of police brutality against Black people in the U.S., there has been a major move nationwide to eradicate racially insensitive material.

In 2018, the Indians removed the contentious Chief Wahoo logo from their game jerseys and caps. The grinning, red-faced mascot, however, is still present on merchandise that can be purchased at Progressive Field and other team shops in Northeast Ohio.

“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues,” the Indians said. “The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

The Redskins’ decision came in the wake of FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the team’s stadium, and other corporate partners calling for the team to change its nickname.

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