Pro-chief billboard returns to UI campus

Billboard supporting former U of I mascot returns. (WCCU)

A familiar billboard has returned to the University of Illinois' campus.

The pro-chief billboard was put up by local attorney John Gadau who is looking to keep the chief's legacy alive.

The billboard resurfaced on the corner of Springfield Avenue and First Street in Champaign after more than a decade hiatus.

It reads “The chief—yesterday, today, forever."

“The university needs to know that is not the consensus and nobody elected me, but I speak for a hell of a lot of people," Gadau said.

Back in 2007 after the chief's departure, Gadau started becoming more vocal making bumper stickers and putting up signs.

Being an alumnus himself, he said he won't let the chief die.

“I am supporting a symbol that for years honored our university, honored the American Indian and to say that it is racist, is just hogwash," he said.

However, Gadau said everyone has a right to their opinion.

“They have a constructional right to be wrong and they are," Gadau said.

Clarence Walker was graduating from UI when the chief was retiring.

“I have some Native American in me actually, so it becomes a bit personally with this sort of thing," Walker said.

He said it's someone's culture they are using.

“I know my grandmother wouldn't be well pleased seeing things like that," he said.

Another former student said the billboard surprised him.

“You have your right to do that but just make sure it doesn't hurt anyone," said former student Lakshmi Buggishetti.

But Gadau said he stands by it.

“All the snowflakes can leave campus and go toward the west side of town where they live and melt when they pass the billboard," Gadau said.

When asked if he thinks the debate will ever end he said, “when we get the chief back."

He said he paid a couple thousand dollars to have the billboard stay up for a year and might keep it up for longer.

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