Native American group threatens Cleveland Indians with $9 billion lawsuit - Robert Roche of the American Indian Education Center

Submitted by Quest-News-Serv... on Sat, 07/05/2014 - 01:47.

(bob roche,  russel means, cleveland american indian center - helped me Quest ministries in the 1970's - read - chief seattle, dwamish tribe at end of post) -A Cleveland-based Native American activist group says it's planning to sue the Cleveland Indians in federal court next month for $9 billion — yes, billion with a b — citing 100 years of racism connected to the team's name and its Chief Wahoo logo.

Saying you'll sue and actually filing a suit are two very different things, of course, but Robert Roche of the American Indian Education Center and the group People Not Mascots is eyeing a federal lawsuit that will ask for retribution dating back to 1915 when the baseball team adopted the Indians name.


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Native American activist Robert Roche protesting at an Indians game earlier this season. (AP)

Native American activist Robert Roche protesting at an Indians game earlier this season. (AP)

Roche told WEWS-TV in Cleveland about his plans for the lawsuit, explaining:

“We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” Roche said. “It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

The threat of this huge lawsuit comes about a week after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed the Washington Redskins' name was "disparaging to Native Americans" and canceled their trademarks

Roche has long been protesting the Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo, so he and his groups must have sensed new opportunity with the latest Redskins controversy. Roche is one of the protesters at Cleveland's home opener every year. This year, he was captured in a photo opposite an Indians fan in redface that quickly went viral.

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Robert Roche, left, is planning a $9 billion lawsuit against the Indians. (

Robert Roche, left, is planning a $9 billion lawsuit against the Indians. (


The Indians don't use Chief Wahoo as their primary logo anymore, changing instead to a big block C. Chief Wahoo's prominence within the team's uniforms and marketing have slowly gone away, though the Indians have stopped short of getting rid of him altogether. He's still on some caps and jersey sleeves.

There's a contingency of Indians fans, however, who protest the protesters and aim to keep Chief Wahoo around. One group has a Facebook page with almost 1,800 "likes." There's also The Wahoo Club, a booster organization for the Indians that's been around since 1962. 

As you'd imagine, its president, Bob Rosen, doesn't agree with the possible lawsuit. He told WEWS-TV:

"If just a small amount of people are against it, than I think you're doing a disservice to people that like it ... I'm not insensitive to the issue, but our 1,650 members of the Wahoo Club, anytime we have a Wahoo Club item they buy it up, they love it ... Can you imagine the baseball team in this city not being called the Cleveland Indians? I can't picture that."

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Unlike the Redskins situation, in which owner Dan Snyder has been outspoken in defense of his team's name and mascot, the Indians have tried to toe the middle ground on this issue. They've taken away Chief Wahoo a bit, but haven't totally denounced him. They've denied wanting to get rid of him, but he's definitely been demoted.

A $9 billion lawsuit — if it ever comes to fruition and isn't thrown out of court early on — would definitely require the Indians to choose a side.

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(" when the last red man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the white men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my nite when the streets of your city and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land. the white man will never be alone. let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. dead, did i say? there is no death, only a change of worlds." chief seattle, dwamish tribe)

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Thanks Guy for posting this - I like Robert Roche.  Naymik is an ass:

For many years - Robert Roche had American Indian Center office over Gino's Tavern in Brooklyn Centre neighborhood.  

Brian Cummins staffer - Johanna Hamm and her husband Darren Hamm, convinced Robert that he could and should move his offices into the historic Wirth House building that has been source of much contention in this neighborhood.   Brian Cummins was Old Brooklyn CDC director while Sheryl Hoffman's friend Meryl Gordon (the Council rep appointed by Jim Rokakis) basically decided that she would use her CDBG monies to purchase Wirth House and Quonset Hut on Denison Ave.  Subtext: this was a commercial corridor and Gordon's handlers probably thought city would demo/could demo (on public dime) and prime the lot for redevelopment after a few years of non-tax paying non-profit (Art House) had the property.  

Those of us, who opposed demo of Wirth House and who had filed Section 106 appeal, were glad that Cummins/Hamm offered up this solution. But, Robert Roche was not forthcoming with his funding availability and he was also elusive when it came to finding him.  Cummins/Hamm expected big grants for AIC (which AIC evidently got) but by then "someone" helped fund Brian's reelection in 2010 and suddenly he wanted Art House to give the property to the "Land Bank."

So, Wirth House is in limbo.  And, Roche is being attacked by Naymik in the dead Dealer.  I don't defend Robert's mismanagement of federal and grant monies - but I will say this - how is he any different from high paid non-profit CDC directors who also shuffle papers and claim services that they don't provide.  Another example of the same game - Lee Fisher at CEO for Cities???. 


 Roche is conveniently being attacked for playing the "game," and because Terry Gilbert is good at winning legal battles.  

And, you can say this for Robert - he has been good at exposing the racial insensitivity of Wahoo.