'Paint the Hall Chief' call has many riled up

'Paint the Hall Chief' call has many riled up

CHAMPAIGN — A call to "Paint the Hall Chief" at Thursday's Illini basketball game against Purdue has sparked allegations of trademark infringement and plans for a counter-protest.

Students for Chief Illiniwek and the Honor the Chief Society posted notices on Facebook last month urging fans to wear Chief Illiniwek gear to Thursday's game, the last home game of the season and Senior Night for graduating players.

"Support the team, make a post on social media, and of course ... wear your Chief gear with pride!" says the Facebook announcement.

The ad features a circular logo based on the official Chief Illiniwek logo, with the State Farm Center's seating chart replacing the feathers in the Chief's headdress.

After receiving complaints, the campus asked Facebook to take down the post because it infringed on the UI's Chief trademark, which it still owns, said UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

Facebook declined, saying the group appeared to be using the logo "to refer to or comment on the university's goods and services," Kaler said, quoting from the social media company's response on Friday. There is no appeal process, she said.

A UI attorney also sent a letter to Students for Chief Illiniwek last week informing the group that it was infringing on the UI's trademark and demanding that it remove the image from its materials, she said. The group is not an officially registered student organization on campus, she said.

"We absolutely have nothing to do with the event, and the chancellor has made very clear the Chief is in our history and we've got to find a way to move forward without the Chief in our future," the UI's Kaler said.

Longtime Chief opponent Stephen Kaufman had complained that the logo was too similar to the official Chief logo, citing language used in the UI's 2013 settlement agreement with the Honor the Chief Society. The agreement allows the group to use an image of a Native American as a logo, "provided that such logo is not confusingly similar to any logos of 'Chief Illiniwek' used by University of Illinois."

The logo for Thursday's event was designed by someone in the community and submitted to the Students for Chief Illiniwek's Facebook page, said Ivan Dozier, a board member for the Honor the Chief Society.

"It is styled after the original logo," he said, with the map of State Farm Center covering up most of it. "As I understand the logo agreement, as long as you change, cover up or otherwise alter a certain percentage of the original logo, then you're allowed to use it," Dozier said.

"When you look at that image, the only thing that remains the same is kind of the face and a little bit of the scalloped edges of the feathers," he said.

Dozier: Good for Facebook

Dozier wasn't aware of the university's attempt to remove the logo from Facebook and said the administrators for the group's page hadn't reported any complaints.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," Dozier said. "I'm glad to hear that Facebook stood their ground. I don't think that the logo violates any trademark laws, nor does it violate any agreement between the Honor the Chief Society and the university."

Omar Cruz, president of Students for Chief Illiniwek, said he hadn't seen the letter from the university but would follow up with other members of the group. Cruz is the current unofficial Chief portrayer, appointed by Dozier and other former Chiefs to dress up in a Native American costume and appear in the stands at UI athletic events. He plans to do so at Thursday's game.

Illinois Student Government President Raneem Shamseldin had also complained to UI officials about the event and potential trademark infringement. She suggested the university take legal action against the Honor the Chief Society and ban costumes at the games.

"People are really fed up about the Chief still attending events, about them having their own rules and bending the rules," she said, adding that she's received harassing emails about her opposition to the Chief.

Cruz and Dozier said the event was suggested by community members in conversations on social media and the two groups agreed to use their platforms to promote it.

The UI retired the Chief in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA after more than a decade of protest from groups who considered it a racist mascot, and it stopped mass producing Chief merchandise soon afterward. But it retained ownership of the Chief trademark to maintain control of its use and has challenged pro-Chief groups' use of it in the past. It continues to license some Chief items for online sales — another point of contention for Chief opponents.

Kaufman: 'Enough is enough'

Kaler said last week's letter to Students for Chief Illiniwek told the group to stop using a photo of the last official Chief Illiniwek portrayer, Dan Maloney, at a UI basketball game, saying the university owns the copyright to that image.

The "Paint the Hall Chi-f" title for Thursdays' game replaced the "e" in "Chief" with a logo developed in 2012 by the Council of Chiefs (past Chief portrayers) — three orange and blue horizontal stripes forming a profile.

In his email, Kaufman asked the UI to stop Thursday's event, saying it violates university rules, property rights and the UI's agreement with the NCAA to stop using American Indian symbols in its athletic program.

He said Students for Chief Illiniwek "has been warned and admonished about this in the past," citing a 2008 letter to the group on a related issue. He noted that the two pro-Chief groups are using the Illiniwek logo to publicly promote an event on university property.

"The Honor The Chief Society sponsors public appearances of persons the University has not appointed or approved to represent either the University or its property Chief Illiniwek," he wrote. Neither the promoters nor those who witness those appearances make any distinction between them and the official Chief Illiniwek portrayers from 2007 and earlier, he argued.

"You and the entire University community have been more than patient with the Honor the Chief Society and the University has gone to considerable expense to warn the Society about its illicit behavior. Enough is enough," Kaufman wrote.

UI: 'Freedom of expression'

Kaler said it's not that simple.

"There is still free speech. It's a freedom of expression issue. And we don't control whether other people choose to wear that logo on their shirts or not," she said.

The Illinois Student Government approved a resolution last month calling for a ban on Chief Illiniwek symbols at UI facilities.

Chancellor Robert Jones put out a statement saying the university does not allow the use of the Chief logo or imagery in its operations or facilities. But he also reiterated that under policies ensuring free expression, the UI can't stop employees from displaying images or logos in their personal work spaces or on their clothes.

Unless a dress code applies, "individual people are allowed to wear what they want to wear. Certainly that's true of ticket holders at a public event," Kaler added.

Chief opponents plan to protest outside Thursday's game, though Illinois Student Government is not organizing the effort, said Shamseldin, who attends most games and works with the film crew for the Illini football program.

She said organizers are "keeping the athletes in mind and want to be respectful of their last game."

Dozier and Cruz also pledged a "safe, comfortable" event, saying they merely want to demonstrate the support of Illini fans for the Chief.

"They have the right to protest whatever they want. We're just there to pretty much show our support for what we want, for what we really care about, and for what the university stands for," Cruz said. "We're not there to cause any problem or trouble."

Anti-Chief protesters at last fall's homecoming parade — where Cruz marched in his costume for the Honor the Chief Society entry — ended up blocking the parade temporarily, prompting accusations of violence by both sides, though no arrests were made.

Asked if extra security is planned for Thursday's game, Kaler wouldn't be specific but said, "We have talked it through and put plans together to make sure everybody is as safe as possible."


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ivan Dozier is president of the Honor the Chief Society; he is a board member. The News-Gazette regrets the error.

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Local Yocal wrote on February 18, 2018 at 7:02 am
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Way to keep riling it up, community. This argument will never end, and the News-Gazette can still sell a few extra newspapers. 

Common Sense wrote on February 18, 2018 at 8:02 am

Isn't it time already for Kaufman to get a life, and a real job? How much does he get paid for being the official Chief crybaby of the Uof I?

Mr Dreamy wrote on February 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

I would venture to say he makes a lot more money than you do. Therefore, his opinion matters more than yours.

NTJA QUEEN BEE wrote on February 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

When did the size of an individual's bank account dictate that their opinions supercede those of someone with a small balance in their account?  This just shows the pettiness involved in this issue.

Bob from Champaign wrote on February 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

This is an abject failure on the part of the University.  The retirement of the Chief should have been accompainied by a concurrent announcement of a new identity and logo/mascot.  Miami University had this same issue with the "Redskins" name and accompaning imagry.  Announced the retirement of Redskins and brough out RedHawks concurrently.  Within a couple years the Redskins identiy was gone.  Instead, the U of I lets this issue fester and people on both sides continue to pick the wounds open every so often to stir the pot.  Now, it's too late. No change could be made now without great whailing and convusions on all sides.  It's a shameful state of affairs for a pre-eminant University.

pattsi wrote on February 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

A parallel example is when Stanford retired the mascot Stanford Indians almost a half century ago. Quietly and with dignity.

nschne393 wrote on February 18, 2018 at 10:02 am

Gee, I wonder what side of the argument all those quoted are on.   Until the U of I sits down with level headed people on both sides of this issue rather than the bombastic firebrands, this issue won't go away.  Too many people on both sides are too interested in getting their quote in the paper rather than solving an issue that could be solved if calmer heads prevail.

Pointblank wrote on February 18, 2018 at 10:02 am
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The Honor The Chief Society should be ashamed of itself, promoting an in-your-face event just to stir hostilities. The University should bar entrance anyone sporting a chief shirt. Wonder if Jay Rosenstein will be filming the entrance of the chief portrayer and watching State Farm personnel provide security for the chief portrayer.  

Pointblank wrote on February 18, 2018 at 10:02 am
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NTJA QUEEN BEE wrote on February 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

WHEN did someone's bank account dictate the importance of their opinion over anyone elses?  UGH

NTJA QUEEN BEE wrote on February 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

WHEN did someone's bank account dictate the importance of their opinion over anyone elses?  UGH

Mr Dreamy wrote on February 18, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Your superiors, measured by capitalistic advantage which is the basis of western civilization, have proven their opinions are more valuable because your superiors are more valuable to society. 

BART15 wrote on February 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm

If Indian imagery is so racist and bigoted why is it allowed at other institutions?

JohnUI82 wrote on February 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm

The Chippewas, Seminoles and Utes gave their blessings to Central Michigan, Florida State and Utah, respectively. The descendants of the Illiniwek Confederation have not. It's a simple concept.

Lostinspace wrote on February 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm

I say, keep the chief and get rid of football.

Alternatively, keep football with a new mascot, Crushy the Crashing Boar.

GLG wrote on February 18, 2018 at 3:02 pm

It's nice to see so many Illini fans on the Big 10 Network broadcast wearing their Chief gear and exercising their free speech. Is Rosenstein wearing one of those 1940  Walter Winchell Fedora hats with the big "PRESS" card stuck in the band to let folks know that he is a true journalist lurking in the restrooms looking for the Chief?

ShampooBananarama wrote on February 18, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Any truth to the rumor Rosenstein is setting up cameras in all SFC restrooms and is live streaming on Facebook? 

byrdslover wrote on February 18, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Yes!  And he's starting with your mother.

BruckJr wrote on February 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

Wrong gender preference for our award winning documentary filmmaker.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on February 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm

The SJW princess is gonna find out that her 6% plurality from the last election means 0 to the vast majority of the folks she was "elected " to represent.--- the Pro Chief students.   I look for the brown shirt thugs of the left to be out in full force "demanding" change.


Like they did at the Homecoming parade.


Lets see if Capt Ahab will be in attendance.

byrdslover wrote on February 18, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Yes.  And he's starting with your mother.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on February 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

from her grave?



johnny wrote on February 19, 2018 at 4:02 am

My heartfelt thanks to these brave censors for continuing to stamp out all imagery of Native Americans.

TomSollenbarger wrote on February 19, 2018 at 11:02 am

The ludicrous PC banning of the Chief all because in 1988 a Native American activist from a tribe in Spokane WA said the Chief was demeaning, although local ILLINOIS Native Americans were not offended. The current OH-SO-VERY-SMUG & PC chancellor wants the the U of I to have a future without the Chief. Past, present and future alumi bequeaths will not be in the Universit's future either until the school returns to a place of learning and free debate free of political correctness

Lefty55 wrote on February 20, 2018 at 12:02 pm

I will never attend another Illini sporting event without sporting a chief logo.  The Chief is not bigoted period end of sentence.  

I do agree with the other poster who said we should have had another logo in 08.  I love the WW1 doughboy as a true Fighting Illini.  It matches up so well with the story of Memorial Stadium.  Why can't the powers that be see this?  Is they stoopid?  lol

Thewatcher wrote on February 20, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Can you imagine what good people could do for the world if they spent as much energy helping the world as they do for opposing the chief?

illinijd wrote on February 20, 2018 at 3:02 pm
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WW! Doughboy would be perfect as a Symbol. However, he wouldn't be able to have his 1915 Rifle with him....Snowflakes would cry,whine and seek shelter!