Former US president Donald Trump performed the controversial “Tomahawk Chop” cheer – denounced as a racist gesture by Native Americans – in support of the Atlanta Braves on Saturday while attending game four of baseball’s World Series.
Trump, who was booed when he attended a World Series game two years ago in Washington, joined thousands of Braves fans at Truist Park in Atlanta in making the chopping motion with his right arm before the team faced the Houston Astros in the best-of-seven Major League Baseball championship final.
Trump was seated in a suite down the rightfield line and was joined by his wife Melania in the cheer, which Native Americans have deplored as a racist insult to their culture and heritage, with some groups calling for it to be retired.
Racism targeting Native Americans hit home with MLB this year as the Cleveland Indians retired their nickname after years of complaints, and are now referred to as the Guardians.
But the “Tomahawk Chop” remains a popular gesture among sports fans.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred backed it this week, saying Native Americans in the Atlanta area are “fully supportive of the Braves’ program, including the chop.”
“For me, that’s kind of the end of the story.”
But National Council of American Indians president Fawn Sharp ripped Manfred’s comments, saying the group has repeatedly told the Braves that “Native people are not mascots and degrading rituals like the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ that dehumanize and harm us have no place in American society.”
The Trumps were joined in the suite by former Georgia college football star running back Herschel Walker, whose bid for a US Senate post from Georgia has been backed by the former president.
In his 2020 re-election bid, Trump narrowly lost the state of Georgia.
While US president in October 2019, he attended game five of the World Series in Washington and a chorus of boos broke out when his image was flashed on the stadium video display board.
Trump had called for a boycott of MLB after an April decision to move the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado in protest of restrictive voting laws passed by Georgia state lawmakers.