Cleveland AIM sent a letter to Progressive on May 1 asking for a meeting within 30 days. As of May 17, the group had received no response.
The ask: Remove the Progressive name and corporate brand from the baseball stadium “until such time as both the exploitative “Indians” team name and the flagrantly racist red-faced “Wahoo” caricature are changed.”
In a statement, AIM’s local director, Sundance, said he believed this tactic [appealing to the Indians’ corporate sponsors] was appropriate “when the perpetrators of bigotry are unresponsive to repeated pleas for decency.”
AIM questioned whether the Progressive Corporation was living up to one of the “core values” listed on its website — “the golden rule.”
“We respect all people, value the differences among them and deal with them in the way we want to be dealt with,” the Progressive site states
. “This requires us to know ourselves and to try to understand others.”
AIM’s local council of elders believes that attaching the Progressive name to institutionalized racism “directly contradicts” this core value. “Racism is not progressive,” the statement concluded.
Progressive Public Relations rep Jeff Sibel told Scene
that the Progressive Field sponsorship provides Progressive the ability to increase their brand awareness in Ohio and throughout the country.
"Chief Wahoo or the nickname “Indians” were never a part of our contract discussions with the team," Sibel said. He did not address whether or not Progressive would meet with AIM.
Sundance told Scene
that AIM has started an online petition
and that they have planned a demonstration for June 1 outside Progressive's corporate headquarters in Mayfield.
The Progressive Corporation bought the stadium naming rights in 2008 for $58 million over 16 years, or about $3.6 million per year. The stadium was formerly known as Jacobs Field.
In the latest effort to pressure the Cleveland Indians organization to get rid of Chief Wahoo, the local chapter of the American Indian Movement has asked for a dialogue with the Progressive Corporation, the insurance giant based in Mayfield that owns the naming rights to the Indians’ stadium until 2024.