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Commission Supports JHS Mascot Name Change

The city’s Human Rights Commission has cast its vote on Jamestown High School’s mascot.

The commission approved a resolution in April supporting a change to the Red Raider name. The group also approved that members of the commission should attend a Jamestown Board of Education meeting to discuss their decision with school officials.

The commission’s discussion during their monthly online meeting on the JHS mascot started with a letter written to the group by Autumn Dahlgren, a member of Jamestown Justice Coalition Mascot Petition Task Force. Dahlgren wrote that a petition was started in June 2020 supporting the JHS mascot name change.

She stated that more than 1,000 people have signed the petition supporting the cause. She added that talks with Jamestown Public Schools District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker have been productive during the last year, but a name change is still needed.

Justin Hubbard, a member of the Human Rights Commission and Jamestown Justice Coalition, said the district moving away from the use of Native American imagery is a good move, but old images of the Red Raider caricature and a capital J with feathers can still be seen on T-shirts and other JHS merchandise. Hubbard said, during the April 14 meeting, that the capital J with feathers was still the profile picture on the Jamestown High School Facebook page, with students wearing eye paint, which represents Native American face paint.

The profile picture on Jamestown High School Facebook page was changed April 20 to just the capital letter J symbol.

“There’s still is a ton of usage,” Hubbard said about Native American imagery.

Kimberly Knight, commission member and Jamestown Public Schools District teacher, said teachers have been instructed not to wear any JHS merchandise that features Native American imagery.

The commission then discussed several options about how to broach the JHS mascot issue with school officials, which included inviting Whitaker to a Human Rights Commission meeting.

In other business, the commission followed up on their previous months discussion about the REAL ID. In March, Knight discussed an unofficial complaint she received from two women who needed extra paperwork to apply to receive a REAL ID.

Since 2017, DMVs throughout the state have started issuing Real IDs, which is mandated by the federal government following the passing of the REAL ID Act in 2005. The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver licenses, permits and ID cards. The act also prohibits federal agencies, like the Transportation Security Administration, from accepting cards for official purposes from states that do not meet these standards. Beginning on Oct. 1, the federal government will require a driver license, permit or ID card to be REAL ID compliant for those who wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight, within the U.S., or enter military bases and certain federal facilities.

Knight said both women are married and their current names aren’t their birth names. Because of their marriages, both women needed to show their marriage license, and in the case of one woman, who has been married twice, she needed to show her marriage licenses and additional paperwork to illustrate her name changes.

Knight said that both women didn’t know they needed the extra paperwork to receive their REAL ID. She added a man can just walk into the DMV without the additional paperwork, which seems unfair to woman, who traditionally take the last name of their spouse after being married.

According to the state DMV website — dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/federal-real-id — paperwork that is required to acquire a REAL ID includes items like if the name on a license, permit, or non-driver ID application does not match the name on an identity, lawful status and social security proofs, someone must bring in court or government issued proof(s) documenting the event(s) causing a name change(s) such as a marriage license(s), divorce decree(s), adoption or court order document(s).

During the April meeting, Knight said she spoke to Larry Barmore, county clerk, about the process to receive a REAL ID. She said Barmore was helpful in providing the information she was looking for about the process. She added that Barmore said the process is not controlled by the county DMV.

The commission decided to write a letter to the state Legislature detailing their opinion that the process to receive a REAL ID is unfair to some people. The commission will also post the necessary information people need to know to attain a REAL ID on social media.

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