Tribe faces potential lawsuit over Chief Wahoo logo, Indians name

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Indians are facing a potential federal lawsuit over the Chief Wahoo logo and Indians name.

Some members of the American Indian community call Wahoo racially offensive and, after a ruling against the Washington Redskins, say it’s the right time to take action.

They’re reviewing avenues, including a federal lawsuit, to change the name and logo. Robert Rocha, executive director of the American Indian Education Center, who also heads a group called People, not Mascots, said the group could seek billions of dollars.

“It’s a mockery of our religion,it’s a mockery of our culture, it’s a mockery of a race of people,” Rocha said.

He’s among the small contingent that protests outside each home opener.

“The issue is not with the baseball players. We have a fine team. It’s not with the team itself,” Rocha said. “The issue is with the name and logo.”

Another option the group is considering is going after the Indians’ trademark. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Commission revoked the Washington Redskins trademark, calling it a “racial slur.” The team planned to appeal.

“There isn’t any difference between the name and logo of the Redskins as there is of the Cleveland Indians,” Rocha said.

Wahoo remains widely popular among Indians fans.

“I love the Wahoo logo; it’s a staple,” said Samantha Elrabidi, of Rocky River. “I think it needs to stay.”

Some fans worry a name or logo change would affect the team’s legacy.

“I think it symbolizes a lot of things for Cleveland,” said Dustin Dorris, of Stow. “We’re a very sports-driven town and very into our heritage and history.”

The group’s lawyer said it’s looking into all possibilities and it’s too early to give a specific time frame on action.

The Cleveland Indians organization declined to comment for this story.