ALBANY, N.Y. — The NFL should pressure the Washington Redskins to change its name, a bipartisan group of New York lawmakers said Tuesday.
The group plans to introduce a resolution denouncing the football team’s use of the word “redskin” and urging team owner Daniel Snyder to pick a new name. If the resolution passes, New York lawmakers would join a growing list of those criticizing the team’s name, including members of Congress from both parties.
”We shouldn’t have to put forth this resolution,” said Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright. ”The word is absolutely offensive to the Native American community and beyond.”
A New York tribe – the Oneida Indian Nation – has been leading a campaign against the name. Ray Halbritter, an Oneida representative, said the ”R word” denigrates Native Americans, who he noted have higher incidences of suicide and a lower life expectancy than other Americans.
With the resolution, he said, ”New York is making a statement that it wants to stand on the right side of history.”
Snyder has defended the team’s name, calling it a ”badge of honor.”
In calling for the NFL to get involved, Wright cited the recent decision by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league over racist comments. He said the NFL — based in New York — could use its power to pressure Snyder to change the name of his team.
The resolution also would denounce other teams — professional or not — that use racist names.
No vote on the measure has been scheduled.
Wright was joined by fellow Democratic Assemblyman Karim Camara as well as Republican senators Joe Griffo and George Maziarz, who chairs the Senate committee on tribal relations.