State lawmakers consider ban on Native American-themed mascots

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BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a debate that’s divided many communities. 22News explains how Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill to ban Native American-themed mascots.

Emotions can get pretty heated when both politics and sports are involved. Turners Falls residents are at odds over the high school nick-name “the Indians,” and that debate could spill over to the State House in Boston.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to ban Native American-themed sports team nicknames and mascots in all Massachusetts public schools.

State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, (D) Springfield said, “I know that it’s a national issue and Massachusetts being a national leader, I think we can send a loud message.”

The majority of Western Massachusetts lawmakers were reluctant to take a position on the bill. 22News asked West Springfield state Representative Michael Finn whether he considers mascots, like the Agawam High School “Brownies” and the Ware “Indians” to be offensive.

State Rep. Michael Finn, (D) West Springfield said, “You know, personally I don’t, but I can definitely see the argument that other people do, and so I think it’s a healthy balance. We have to just take it one day at a time, look at the bill and see where it goes.”

Another lawmaker believes the state has much bigger issues to deal with right now.

State Rep. John Velis, (D) Westfield said, “We have a very specific job and it’s to focus on the things that are hurting this Commonwealth on a daily basis: heroin, the opiate crisis, drugs. Why are we going to get involved in this politically-correct nonsense?”

The bill would need approval from the state Legislature and the Governor’s signature to become law.

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