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Redmen Revisited

Posted by Erica Noonan, Globe West April 1, 2008 12:27 PM

In the wake of last week's public vote to reconsider dumping Natick's controversial Redmen town mascot, the school committee voted 7-0 last night to revisit the issue.

The committee voted to choose a new mascot last year, citing concens that name is racist and a smear against Native Americans. The plan was to choose a new name -- possibly the Hawks, or the Red and Blue -- in time for the fall 2008 football season.

But an unexpected public swell of support for the old Redmen name has gripped the town. Advocates claim the nickname is not meant a slur, but is a tribute to town pride, and charged the school committee's name-change task force with violating state open meeting laws.

The March 25 public vote was a non-binding, but school committee chair Steve Meyler said group agreed a wholesale review of the mascot issue was in order.

``When the public comes out like that to ask for reconsideration, it seems quite appropriate that we listen,'' he said.

The town will hire an independent counsel to review the situation. One priority is to determine whether the Redmen name is a violation of any group's civil rights, he said. The committee plans to hold a townwide public forum in early June and render a permanent decision later that month, he said.

Jimmy Brown, an organizer of the pro-Redmen campaign, said his group was pleased.

``It's very comforting that the school committee is listening to the voters and agrees that there are more questions to be answered,'' said Brown.

-- Erica Noonan

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