A presidential appointee in the Obama administration has been accused of assaulting an Oklahoma man because of the man's shirt.
Barret Dahl, 28, an American Indian student at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, attended a powwow in Washington, D.C. in October 2015 wearing a Washington Redskins shirt.
Dahl, who is autistic, said he was approached by a man who took exception to his shirt. That man was Bill Mendoza, an official in the U.S. Department of Education who is vocal about his opposition to Native American mascots.
"He comes to me and calls me the name weetard," Dahl told KWTV. "Not retard, weetard. 'You're a weetard for not understanding Redskins is offensive.'"
Mendoza then allegedly interrogated Dahl about where he's from.
"Where are you from? You're so stupid and uneducated. You don't understand Redskins is offensive? And I tell him I'm from Oklahoma as I'm very proud to be and that's when he spits on me," Dahl said.
"He spits right in my face," he told KFOR. "The boy sitting next to me sees it. He doesn't say anything. So I get up and leave the ballroom to get the police."
That's when Mendoza allegedly attacked him, leaving him with several injuries including a fractured arm, broken teeth and a black eye. Dahl said he had to have three surgeries as a result.
Mendoza disputes this version of events. His lawyer, Mark Zaid, told KWTV that Mendoza confronted Dahl about his shirt because it said "Injun Pimp" on the back. Zaid also provided the news station with notes that Mendoza took regarding the incident.
According to those notes, Dahl was the aggressor.
"I don't have to [expletive] explain [expletive] to you," Mendoza quotes Dahl as having said. "If you want to step outside and take this outside, I'd be happy to explain it to you."
Mendoza claims that after the initial argument, he and Dahl separated. He then came upon him near an escalator and tried to apologize.
"I reached out my hand and said, 'My apologies for offending you,'" Mendoza wrote in his notes. "He was holding a cup in his hand, at which point, he threw its contents that was the smell of coffee and was hot, but not scalding. He then punched me in the face (right cheek). I tried to grab him but we both fell."
Dahl is planning to sue Mendoza, as he said his family has been hit hard by medical expenses stemming from the altercation.
"What bothers me the most about this, first off, we've lost everything we have and he's lost nothing," Dahl told KFOR. "He's kept his job, his home, his family. And, second off, there's not a doubt in my mind that this person would do the same thing to a young child who was wearing a Redskins shirt."
Mendoza's lawyer responded with the following statement to KFOR, saying that Dahl's account of the event is false:
Mr. Dahl and his family have for reasons unknown embarked upon a vendetta against a respected U.S. Government official who represents the interests of Native Americans across this country. Their accounting of the event is false and defamatory and is completely contradicted by multiple third-party, unbiased witnesses. Should Mr. Dahl continue to malign Mr. Mendoza he will have no other choice but to pursue all available legal remedies.