‘Ottawa’ Ontario Judge Dismisses Bid to Ban Cleveland Indians Name, Logo
TORONTO – An aboriginal activist struck out Monday in his legal bid to stop the Cleveland Indians from displaying the team’s name and logo during games in Toronto.
Hours before the Indians hit the field at the Rogers Centre for a playoff game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen dismissed Douglas Cardinal’s application for an injunction against the ball club, Rogers Communications, and Major League Baseball (MLB).
Cardinal called for the team to be banned from wearing jerseys sporting the word “Indians” and Chief Wahoo — a cartoon caricature of a Native American face with big teeth, red skin and a feather protruding from his headband.
He argued the team’s name and logo are derogatory and discriminate against indigenous people.
Cardinal’s application also called for series broadcasters Rogers and MLB to stop broadcasting images of the logo and to refrain from using “Indians” when referring to the team.
“The combination of the name and the caricature is (discriminatory),” argued lawyer Monique Jilesen, suggesting the team wear their spring-training jerseys, which don’t sport the logo or team name.
Lawyers for the Indians, Rogers, and MLB questioned the timing of Cardinal’s application — given how long the club has been around — noting the impact an injunction would have on the team.
Rogers lawyer Kent Thompson attempted a curve ball of his own, revealing that Cardinal is currently in China and may not even end up watching the game his lawyers say would offend him.
“We ought not to be flying by the seat of our pants with a case of such complexity,” Thompson said.
A snap injunction, he insisted, would unleash “chaos at the Rogers Centre” as stadium staff would have to avoid broadcasting of images fans wearing Cleveland Indians clothing on the venue’s Jumbotron screen.
Indians lawyer Jonathan Lisus questioned what the game would look like.
“You’ll have a black Jumbotron … and the Cleveland (players will be) running around in their spring training jerseys,” added Lisus.
He noted Cleveland pitcher Andrew Miller, whom the Indians acquired mid-summer, doesn’t even have a spring-training jersey.
MLB lawyer Markus Koehnen said the Cleveland team has “a registered trademark” and the “right to use it throughout Canada.”
Cardinal also has complaints filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.