Facing Off: Man in Redface Goes Toe-to-Toe With AIM Member

Simon Moya-Smith

A Cleveland Indians fan, painted in redface and donned in a faux Native American headdress, justified his brazen actions Friday afternoon by stating his attire was not racist – just “Cleveland Pride.”

According to Deadspin, the man, who goes only by the name “Rodriguez,” approached Cleveland American Indian Movement member Robert Roche of the Apache Nation just before the season opener at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

The man allegedly proceeded to taunt Roche and the protesters by stating that Chief Wahoo is not offensive and that “it’s Cleveland pride,” Deadspin reported.

Photos posted on show Roche and other protesters outside the stadium with banners that read, “People Not Mascots,” “WE ARE NOT HONORED” and “Little RED SAMBO Must Go!”

The photos also show Rodriguez and other Cleveland Indians fans approaching the protesters.

One of the photos was posted on Twitter by user @ClevelandFrowns, a Cleveland-based blogger and attorney. Social media users immediately retweeted the image and posted it to Facebook with the expected response of both disgust and approbation.

Michael Baldwin, a journalist at Cleveland’s ABC affiliate News Channel 5, simply tweeted “that is awful,” whereas Twitter user @killertech216 responded with “dude fuck the native [sic] Americans. Chief wahoo and the name the Indians stay.”

Along with Rodriguez’s comments and actions, protesters also faced piercing diatribes from fans making their way into the stadium from nearby bars.

Deadspin reported that fans hurled insults at the protesters. They flipped off the group, shouted “(expletive) off!” and “go back to the reservation.”

ESPN reported Wednesday that some fans were expected to arrive at the game sans the image of Chief Wahoo on their jerseys and hats.

A campaign to remove the image of Chief Wahoo, aptly titled “DeChiefing,” has gained momentum again as the 2014 season launched across the nation.


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MJ's picture
Submitted by MJ on
If someone says to you that something you are saying or doing is offensive to them then it IS offensive, especially if a group of people went to the trouble to protest. Basic math. Basic respect and sense. Can't figure out how much is the mob mentality of some (not all) sports fans, or how much is racial intolerance. Glad that this is in the news for public awareness.

brigitgoddess's picture
Submitted by brigitgoddess on
I would so love it if someone from AIM showed up at the Burning Man festival in NV and school the idiots who regularly show up with "warbonnets" and other faux native attire. A small group of us that attend have tried for several years to convince them of why it is racist and offensive to no avail. It's not just sports fans who cling to this crap.

Ronald Thomas West's picture
Ronald Thomas West
Submitted by Ronald Thomas West on
What the Cleveland fans are doing is not particularly smart. Nor is confronting them in line with the old Native values. We live in a reality far removed from the ancient Native concept, and in the now, some Natives are no different to new age or worse and in a sense, what you see in Native studies programs is little different to what the Cleveland fans are doing. Don't throw stones.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Where is A.I.M. when you need them? Can't we join forces and perhaps start a team of our own? Maybe some of the tribes with profitable casinos could set aside money to buy an all Native team that we could call The Crackers, or maybe The Pale Faces? I wonder how White America would stand for NDNs donning white face and parading around like idiots, insisting that we were "honoring" White people? Instead of the offensive "tomahawk chop" we could adopt the equally offensive "Two-Faced Treaty Sign." Can anyone name another racial/cultural group that has to endure public racism? No. You can't do it with Jews, you can't do it with Asians, you can't do it with African-Americans, you can't do it with Muslims, Catholics, or Buddhists; WHY do people believe it's okay to do it with Native Americans?

Buffalo Horn's picture
Buffalo Horn
Submitted by Buffalo Horn on
I can accept the fact that this person with the fake feathers says he is proud of Cleveland and apparently he represents not only Cleveland but also the Cleveland Indians Team. Perhaps the city of Cleveland is OK with this behavior, but his imagery is so bazaar that the Cleveland Indians team should be offended and ashamed of his outrageous attack on a specific race of people. Utilizing the mascot of the Native American to attack Native Americans is blatant racism and I find it amazing that the Cleveland Indians Team quietly sanctions his behavior by their incredible silence. By turning a deaf ear to this confrontation, the Cleveland Indians Team (players, management and fans) has shown nothing but bigotry in the most blatant form. What message does this send to their children? What kind of people openly embrace racism and gain citywide support?

Gary Small
Gary Small
Submitted by Gary Small on
Since he is such an enthusiastic person, I wonder if I could get this gentleman as a motivational speaker. The venue will be in front of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Office in Lame Deer MT.

Annette Talas
Annette Talas
Submitted by Annette Talas on
If there was a team called "Black Skins" with a black face logo or a team called "Yellow Skins" with a caricature of a chinese face and people protested to have the name and logo changed, their wouldn't really be much debate, it would be changed.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I've been reading this story through other news outlets and I'm amazed to say that most Americans were vehemently opposed to Mr. Redface. I even read an impromptu poll taken by Cleveland residents who promptly rejected the notion that ALL Cleveland residents support Chief Wahoo or that they support the racism perpetrated by fans.

idiotwind's picture
Submitted by idiotwind on
Idiots abound in the sports world, comes from being hit one too many times in the head which tends to scramble their brains. Idiots, all of 'em! Why even dignify their stupidity with a response, the AIM guy should just turn and walk away.