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Indians name, Chief Wahoo do not discriminate under Canadian law, judge rules

A Canadian judge ruled the Cleveland Indians’ name and “Chief Wahoo” logo do not illegally discriminate against indigenous people.

A Canadian court ruling will allow Game 3 of the ALDS to go on as normal, as a judge stated Monday the Cleveland Indians’ name and “Chief Wahoo” logo do not illegally discriminate against indigenous people, according to the National Post.

On Friday, architect Douglas Cardinal filed a claim that said his human rights are violated when Indians games are broadcast on television. He requested that Judge Thomas McEwen of Ontario Superior Court ban the Indians name and logo from any broadcast until his human rights complaints are heard.

Three hours before Indians-Blue Jays Game 3 at Rogers Centre, Judge McEwen denied the request, meaning Cleveland does not have to replace its uniforms that say “Indians” across the chest and feature a caricature image of a Native American on the sleeves.

Had Cardinal’s efforts been successful, the word “Indians” would not have been allowed to be spoken and images of Chief Wahoo would not have been allowed to be displayed during Rogers Communications’ broadcast of the game. In fact, Rogers Communications attorney Kent Thompson said the media company would not have carried the game at all out of fear of being held in contempt had it slipped up.

Monique Jilesen, Cardinal’s lawyer, said the her client was seeking a ban of the “official use” of the name and logo only, and his objective was not to cancel the game, its broadcast, or Cleveland fans' ability to wear their team’s gear.

But MLB attorney Markus Koehnen argued that since the name “Cleveland Indians” and the Chief Wahoo logo are registered trademarks in Canada, the league and team have the right to use them. 

Indians lawyer Jonathan Lisus added, “Make no mistake, you are being asked to censor constitutionally protected activity. What we are here today about is controversial speech.”