Mascot impersonator draws homecoming backlash

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) – University of Illinois students are lashing out about a mascot impersonator.

Protesters organized by the U of I student government voiced their anger about someone portraying former mascot Chief Illiniwek during the school’s homecoming parade. Students and faculty have called the character racist.

“It is a reminder that we are not an inclusive university, we are not diverse in our actions and we do not represent all bodies when we still allow cultural appropriation on our very own campus,” said student president Raneem Shamseldian.

The school stopped using the name and mascot in 2007. Protesters rallied during the parade and ended up stopping festivities for about 20 to 30 minutes as they nearly turned violent.

The university’s “Honor the Chief Society” is for the mascot, saying Chief Illiniwek is important to U of I tradition. An impersonator has been in the parade every year in recent years, but the group had to stop using the name and logo as part of a 2013 settlement.

Shamseldian says he wants the university to make a permanent change in its mascot soon.

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