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New Lancaster board members take mascot fight to Internet radio

The new Lancaster Legends school mascot could be short-lived if Lancaster School Board members-elect Brenda Christopher and Kelly H. Depczynski get their way.

Both are determined to eventually restore the Redskins mascot as the district’s nickname, despite the board’s unanimous vote last week to establish the Legends as the new moniker.

Christopher in an interview aired Wednesday on an Internet radio program based in Scottsdale, Ariz., described the Legends as a “temporary name.”

She chatted with the two talk show hosts about the importance of changing the district’s nickname back to Redskins.

“We are still very upset that our name is gone. Apparently, we’re just supposed to get over it within a day or two. And that’s not happening. They won’t stop and acknowledge this really affected the community,” Christopher said. “They just think we’re whining, complaining kind of people.”

She added: “We’re not getting over it.”

Neither Depczynski nor Christopher returned phone calls to The Buffalo News on Saturday.

Both are frequent contributors to “The Real Deal” show hosted by Dennis Yellowhorse Jones, dubbed “The Ambassador,” and Daniel “Danny Q” Quigley, on The program has done several other segments about the Lancaster Redskins controversy. The hosts promise to continue their support of the pro-Redskins contingent, saying they will come to Lancaster soon.

The talk show hosts are adamant about preserving Native American nicknames and logos in sports team tributes around the country.

They say they do not find terms such as Redskins derogatory or racial slurs but instead a source of pride and tradition. And they call the oppositional forces “name changers.”

Both Depczynski and Christopher were well-known as staunch opponents of changing the mascot name when they announced their candidacies for the School Board election in May. Publicly, they did not link their campaigns to the issue, but the issue dominated the elections and drove thousands to the polls in Lancaster. The women unseated two incumbents who voted to end the Redskins name.

When the two take their seats next month, they will be outnumbered 5 to 2 on the nickname issue. But another election will be held the next year when two more seats are up.

On the radio show Wednesday, one of the hosts read a statement they said came from Depczynski, warning that a mascot change is imminent.

“This Board of Education are rogue and acting upon their own personal beliefs. Some buckled under pressure,” Depczynski wrote, according to the talk show host who read her statement. “Thanks to them, they’ve made the residents who pay taxes and elected them as representatives feel as though Redskins is a dirty word.”

Depczynski said she will “not drink the PC Kool-Aid, and I will not continue the discrimination of true, Native Americans.”

“I will not contribute to the social genocide of native people by wiping them from our maps,” she said. “So with that being said, I will continue to wear my Redskins apparel with pride and will not be shamed into believing that these were not shady works done by the Board of Education for pushing their own agenda. If you don’t like it, step aside. Change is here. I hope you can hear that freight train barreling down the track. Your days of dictating my hometown are done.”

At the outset of the interview, Christopher responded to Depczynski’s statement by saying: “Wasn’t that an amazing thing Kelly wrote? It gives me chills just listening to it again,” Christopher said. “It gives goosebumps, and she’s absolutely right.”

The program conversation also included repeated criticism of School Board President Kenneth Graber.

The radio show hosts called Graber “a little scumbag,” “a little Nazi” and “a french fry.”

After one host referred to Graber, who is Jewish, as “a little Nazi,” Christopher could be heard laughing. Then he was called a “french fry.”

Christopher laughed and said, “Yeah.”

Two days before the radio show aired, at a Lancaster School Board meeting, pro-Redskins supporters stood and turned their backs on the board members as well as Korissa Gozdziak, the eighth-grader who designed the new Legends logo. One angry man yelled out to Graber, “Heil Hitler!”

On the radio show, Christopher described Graber as “just very rude, very disrespectful.”

At one point, one of the hosts said Graber thinks people should be subservient and bow to him.

“Right,” Christopher responded. “He’s always been that way, but it’s been worse since the whole issue came about. And he won’t take responsibility. You know people get heated at a meeting and start yelling, and he’ll go, ‘Why are you yelling?’ And it’s because he won’t listen.”

The hosts additionally said Graber has always been “an idiot.”

Reached Saturday, Graber said he did not listen to the program but had learned he was called “a Nazi” on air.

“I’m not going to engage in name-calling. Whatever they’re saying is not true,” he said. “If they hurt the community, they’ll end up regretting it. All they’re doing is trying to create trouble in the community. They don’t care about the kids.”

Christopher did not fault the student leaders who helped guide the process to select a new mascot. They had no choice but to create a new name, she said, also praising Korissa.

“She did what she had the opportunity to do,” Christopher said. “She did a great job and we’re all real proud of her. That takes some guts. She happens to be the same age as my youngest daughter. A lot of those kids did not want the Redskins name gone and that takes some real guts to create a new name when your friends don’t want you to.”

When asked about Board Member Patrick Uhteg, Christopher said she still respects him. She claimed that when she previously served on the School Board from 2010 to 2013, Uhteg was pro-Redskin.

“Sometime along the way, he was brainwashed and drank the Kool-Aid,” she said.