Raul and Shannon Armenta, parents of the 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fans accused of blackface and racial insensitivity last year, have sued the outlet Deadspin for defamation.
In November of last year, Deadspin made a fool of itself when it featured an article from Carron J. Phillips attacking a 9-year-old wearing face paint and an Indian headdress at a Chiefs game.“The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress,” the headline read. The article went even further:
It takes a lot to disrespect two groups of people at once. But on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, a Kansas City Chiefs fan found a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time.
It was as if Jon Gruden’s emails had come to life. The image of a Chiefs fan in Black face wearing a Native headdress during a road game leads to so many unanswered questions.
Why did the camera person give this fan the attention?
Why did the producer allow that camera angle to be aired at all?
Is that fan a kid/teenager or a young adult?
Despite their age, who taught that person that what they were wearing was appropriate?
The author also only showed the side of the boy’s face that had been painted black, not showing the other side of his face that had been painted red.
New photo of the person @Deadspin accused of being a vile racist who wore blackface at a football game.
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) November 27, 2023
On Monday, the boy’s parents filed a lawsuit against Deadspin, claiming that the article “maliciously and wantonly” attacked their son. Outkick reported that the complaint read as follows:
By selectively capturing from the CBS broadcast an image of H.A. showing only the one side of his face with black paint on it — an effort that took laser-focused precision to accomplish given how quickly the boy appeared on screen: Phillips and Deadspin deliberately omitted the half of H.A.’s face with red paint on it.
H.A. did not wear a costume headdress because he was ‘taught hate at home’—he wore it because he loves the Kansas City Chiefs’ football team and because he loves his Native American heritage.
The complaint further said that the family received death threats, including a pledge to kill someone with a “wood chipper” while destroying the father’s professional life, making him a “pariah at work, forcing the family to consider moving out of state.”
“They have branded a nine-year-old child with false allegations that will live forever online. H.A. has already suffered significantly—his test scores and grades have dropped in school, and he has shown emotional damage from the onslaught of negative attention,” it said.
JUST IN: The young boy who was labeled as wearing ‘blackface’ by Deadspin is Holden Armenta.
His mother, Shannon Armenta confirmed that her son was the one at the middle of the controversy on her Facebook page.
It gets even better: Chiefs players saw Holden during the game and… pic.twitter.com/jdIDhcul3Z
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) November 29, 2023
The article on Deadspin still remains with all photos of the boy removed under the headline: “The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands.” It also issued a correction stating that the publication “regrets” that the piece’s focus centered on a singular fan.
“We regret any suggestion that we were attacking the fan or his family. To that end, our story was updated on Dec. 7 to remove any photos, tweets, links, or otherwise identifying information about the fan. We have also revised the headline to better reflect the substance of the story,” it reads.
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