By: Wesley Lowery
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) weighed into the ongoing battle over the name of Washington’s football franchise, telling the crowd at an event hosted by the National Congress of American Indians that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should stop issuing the trademark for the Washington Redskins team name.
“We all respect freedom of speech, but the trademark office has rejected names which are considered offensive, and they should do it now,” Pelosi said at the event, according to the Huffington Post. “They can keep their name on the team, but when it comes to all the stuff — that’s serious money. So I think that is one path that we can go.”
“It’s time to choose another name,” she added. “In fact, it’s long overdue.”
The long-fought battle over the Redskins name — which several national groups, including the Oneida Indian Nation, have deemed racist — resurfaced in early February when Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) wrote a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to formally support a name change for the franchise.
Team owner Daniel Snyder has previously said that, despite mounting pressure, he does not plan to change the name.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has refused to register trademarks containing the word “Redskins” at least 11 times since 1992. Each time, it was on the grounds that the term may disparage Native Americans.
Several local lawmakers have said that the team should change its name, but most who have spoken on the issue do not believe that Congress should take action to force a change.