ACLU to Walmart: Keep Redskins gear out of Paw Paw store

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — The American Civil Liberties Union of  Michigan is pushing for Walmart to keep Paw Paw High School merchandise  out of its local store, saying the school’s Redskins mascot is a racial  slur.

The state branch of the ACLU says it sent a letter Wednesday  to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, saying the company should consider that  restocking such items “does not occur in isolation, but within a racial  context.”

The ACLU of Michigan says the Southeast Michigan Walmart  Supercenter temporarily removed Paw Paw Redskins merchandise from its  Paw Paw area store after a recent complaint.

The  ACLU of Michigan claims the debate over Paw Paw’s mascot “has  exacerbated racial tensions at the school,” based on 2015 through 2017  records the organization says it obtained from the school through a  Freedom of Information Act request.

While most of the examples  provided by the ACLU of Michigan listed students using the N-word, two  directly related to Paw Paw’s mascot. The ACLU of Michigan said in a  note, the Paw Paw superintendent was approached by a resident who was  punched in the face before a board meeting because she publicly  announced she was in favor of changing the school’s mascot.

In  another example, a parent asked the district about options for  transferring her child out of the district after calling a school board  meeting about the Redskins issue “openly hostile.”

The ACLU’s letter comes about a month after the Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media reignited the debate by posting a billboard along I-94 saying the definition of redskin is very offensive. The previous  billboard read “We are the Paw Paw Redskins” and boasted the school’s  mascot logo.

After a contentious public meeting February 2017, the Paw Paw School board voted 4-3 to keep its longtime mascot.

The Saranac school district voted in 2015 to keep its Redskins mascot. In December 2016, Belding's school board voted to drop the Redskins name.

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