Politicians debate controversial issue

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Champaign Republican state senator Rick Winkel says it is a mistake for legislators to force action on the Chief Illiniwek issue.

State Senate President Emil Jones, a Democrat from Chicago, says the University of Illinois trustees should get rid of the mascot before the Legislature adjourns at the end of May. Otherwise, he says lawmakers may cut the university's budget.

Jones says people who support Chief Illiniwek are the same type of people who supported segregation 50 years ago.

But Winkel says the process of whether to remove the mascot should move forward without political interference.

Chief Illiniwek is a student who dresses in an Indian costume and dances at University of Illinois sports events.

American Indians complain that the character is demeaning.