Whitesboro, N.Y., votes to keep controversial seal some call racist

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Jan. 12, 2016 at 6:41 AM
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WHITESBORO, N.Y., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Local residents voted in support of retaining a village seal that seems to depict a white man choking a Native American.

Of the 212 votes cast, 157, or 74 percent, were in favor of keeping the current seal, which dates back to 1883. Officially, the seal depicts a friendly wrestling match between the town's founder, Hugh White, and a member of the local Oneida tribe, but it has been sparking racial controversy for decades.

About 11 percent of the 1,900 registered voters in the town of 4,000 voted.

The vote is non-binding, but the village board was scheduled meet Tuesday to discuss the results.

Town leaders gave voters nine choices for a new town seal, including one depicting National Hockey League player and Whitesboro resident Robert Esche. Another showed a white man and Native American dressed as luchador wrestlers.

The seal is displayed on town trucks, documents and buildings. Last summer, a petition drive called for the seal to be removed. Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O'Connor said the vote was to make a final determination on the future of the seal.

"It's been a controversy for decades, so we decided to get the input of our local village residents,'' O'Connor said. "We wanted to get a feeling from them on what image they want to represent their history."

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