An autistic, Native American man visiting Washington, D.C., on a college trip claims that an official with the Obama White House beat him up for wearing a Washington Redskins jersey.
The official, in the alternative, claims that the college student was the aggressor in the physical confrontation that occurred on October 30, but has just emerged in the news as both men who fundamentally disagree over who actually caused the fight consider legal action against each other.
The incident occurred at what is described as a four-day powwow at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland, a few miles outside of D.C.
Fort Lewis College student Barrett Dahl, 28, a Redskins fan who reportedly has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, says that William Mendoza, the allegedly incensed White House appointee, called him a “weetard” for his alleged lack of understanding that the Redskins gear is offensive, and spit in his face. See news clip embedded below for details.
“Barrett Dahl…said he decided to wear a Washington Redskins shirt during a visit to the nation’s capitol because he considers the controversial logo to be a symbol of cultural pride,” HeatStreet reported.
Both men involved in the altercation are of Native American heritage. According to media accounts, Dahl is a member of the Choctaw and Sac and Fox Nations of Oklahoma, while Mendoza is an Oglala-Sicangu Lakota.
“Mendoza is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative of American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and an outspoken opponent of using Native American images as mascots,” News9 of Oklahoma City reported. Other media outlets indicate that Mendoza works for the U.S. Department of Education.
“In interviews with the Herald, the men each blamed the other for starting the physical altercation,” the Durango Herald of Colorado reported. Fort Lewis College is located in Durango.
Barrett Dahl claims the verbal altercation became physical as he was leaving the event and Mendoza followed him into the hallway and assaulted him. Mendoza claims that Dahl shoved him and subsequently threw a cup of coffee in his face when he tried to apologize for their disagreement, and then both starting brawling near the escalator for about two minutes, the Herald detailed.
Not only do they disagree who threw the first blow but there is also disagreement as to whether the back of the Redskins jersey in question contained the words “injun pimp” (which Mendoza allegedly also found offensive), or other language such as “injun player” or “Redskin playa.”
Dahl, 28, reportedly suffered a broken right arm, which has not fully healed and which required three surgeries, along with broken teeth and a black eye. Mendoza, 40, has complained of injuries to his wrist and knee and a facial scratch.
Prince Georges County cops responded to the scene at about 11 p.m. but made no arrests.
Barret Dahl has set up a GoFundMe page to offset his healthcare costs.
“The medical bills have caused me and my family to lose everything we have. This request for funding is for my medical bills which have topped 40,000 dollars and several surgeries and have lost total use of my right arm,” his page explains.
Although the Redskins name is a big issue in the media echo chamber and among some civil rights groups, a survey published by the Washington Post in May suggested that 90 percent of Native Americans aren’t offended by the Washington Redskin’s logo.
“The results — immediately celebrated by team owner Daniel Snyder and denounced by prominent Native American leaders — could make it that much harder for anti-name activists to pressure Redskins officials, who are already using the poll as further justification to retain the moniker,” the Post noted. Continued trademark protection for the Redskins logo is now tied up in court.
“Dahl and his family, however, believe those images were created to honor Indians, not make fun of them. People like Mendoza attack the images because they are ashamed of their heritage, said Dahl’s father, Mike Dahl,” the Herald asserted.
Dahl is planning to file a civil lawsuit against Mendoza for personal injury damages, while Mendoza’s lawyer may file a countersuit for defamation.
[Photo by Nick Wass/AP Images]