Update: Students, alumni protest change to Capitol Hill mascot

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Dozens of students at Capitol Hill High School took a stand against a decision that was made this week by the school board.

Earlier this week, the Board of Education decided to change Capitol Hill’s mascot from the Redskins.

Organizers say it is a simple gesture to respect and honor the Native American community.

On Wednesday, police closed roads in front of the high school as students left class to protest the change.

They held up signs, trying to save ‘the Redskins.’

“We’ve been Redskins for over 88 years,” said Kristin Weeks, a student at Capitol Hill.

Weeks said changing the mascot’s name is like losing a piece of history.

“It’s a tradition. My parents’ parents went here, my parents went here and now I’m going here, my sister goes here and we’ve always been Redskins,” said Weeks.

“I understand it’s offensive to people. I’m Native American, but once a Redskin, always a Redskin,” said Natile Dunning.

“Stay out of school until they do this right and keep the name of the Redskins,” said Roy Meler.

Meler is a Capitol Hill alumnus from the class of 1948.

“I feel they should not do away with this tradition,” said Meler.

The Oklahoma City Public School District released a statement saying, “This is an emotional issue for everyone involved and requires heartfelt and open conversations moving forward.”

The administration said they plan to educate students on the history of the term Redskins and how it can be offensive.

For some students and alumni, they hope the decision is reversed.

“I just think that the school board should consider and leave this as it is,” said Meler.

“The power of the people. It’s always been the power of the people, power of the press, and as long as we’re heard and they know our opinion and how strongly we feel about this, I do honestly think they will change their mind,” said Weeks.

There’s another school board meeting in January where people can reserve a spot to make a public comment.

Oklahoma City Public Schools issued a statement in response to the student-led protest.

“This morning Capitol Hill High School students respectfully voiced their concerns of the Oklahoma City Public School District Board of Education’s decision to identify a new mascot for the school. Oklahoma City Public School District administration is proud of our students and support their decision to protest the Board of Education’s vote. This is an emotional issue for everyone involved and requires heartfelt and open conversations moving forward.  Current and former Capitol Hill High School students will have an active role and strong voice in the process moving forward, and the District’s Native American Student Services Department will work with the student body and the community on providing additional information on the history of the term “Redskins”. Our goal is to be supportive of our students and respectful to the community during this process.”  –Tierney Tinnin, OKCPS Communications Officer.

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