“Change the name!” read one message sprayed beside the school’s logo of a Native American with a feather headdress.
“Redskins?? More like white skins …” read another on the other side of the logo.
“Racists,” was sprayed on the track.
The incident is just the latest in a community that debated ditching the Redskins name last year.
The school opened in 1929 with the nickname “Comets,” but switched to Redskins in 1936, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, after the school district hired a number of teachers from Miami University, whose mascot was also the Redskins. (Miami changed its nickname to the Redhawks in 1997 at the urging of local native tribes.)
But at Anderson, the name stuck, even as momentum has grown in recent years to get rid of nicknames or logos that invoke indigenous peoples.
The Anderson community convened a committee in 2018 to weigh banishing the Redskins mascot, but that group disbanded without reaching a decision, leaving the nickname intact.
A meeting in June 2018 when the committee was supposed to vote turned raucous as attendees on both sides of the issue hollered at one another and at committee members, according to local media accounts.
Opponents of the name wore buttons that read, “#WordsMatter.” Supporters wore orange T-shirts that read, “Once A Redskin, Always A Redskin,” a rallying cry that spread on social media. Some residents planted yard signs for KeepOurRedskins.com, a website for the mascot’s backers.
As committee members spoke, they were often booed or shouted down. When one commented she no longer had children enrolled at Anderson, one man in the crowd yelled back, “Then shut up!”
The committee required a unanimous vote to recommend a name change to the local school district. Without one and with tensions rising, it chose to drop the issue.
“I don’t see the issue going away,” one parent told local news station WCPO at the time. “So, as far as long-term situation here, I feel like we just delayed the inevitable.”
This week, those tensions flared again. A sheriff’s deputy on a routine patrol Wednesday morning spotted the graffiti “with profane language and racial overtones” on school grounds, according to an incident report obtained by The Washington Post.
“The graffiti discovered at Anderson High School is deeply disturbing and does not reflect the beliefs of our students nor staff,” Forest Hills School District superintendent Scott Prebles said in a statement provided to WCPO. “We are grateful for the hard work of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and we are confident that the person responsible will be identified.”
Officials reviewed surveillance camera footage and are searching for a male suspect.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” a sheriff’s department spokesman told The Post. “We still don’t know who the suspect is.”
High schools around the country continue to grapple with use of the Redskins nickname and other phrases that allude to Native Americans. This year, Maine banned public schools, colleges and universities from using Native American mascots. California banned public schools from using “Redskins” in 2015.
At the end of 2017, 49 schools used that nickname, down from 93 schools in 1989, according to Capital News Service. Dozens more use the name “Indians.” A 2016 Washington Post poll found 90 percent of Native Americans said the Washington Redskins team name did not bother them. Nine percent found it offensive, and 1 percent had no opinion.
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said he will never change the NFL franchise’s name.
The Cleveland Indians this year discontinued the use of their “Chief Wahoo” Indian head logo. McGill University in Montreal dropped its historic “Redmen” moniker in April.
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