Thousands of protesters – including political leaders – gathered Sunday morning at the Minneapolis football stadium where the Minnesota Vikings are facing the Washington Redskins to rally against the controversial team name.
#NotYourMascot, a coalition of grassroots organizations against injustices of native identity in sports, called for the march and rally for Nov. 2, hoping to become the largest-ever protest against the Washington team name. Marchers were told to meet at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Plaza for Indian prayers. They then headed to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium at 10 a.m. for a rally and to hear several speakers, including a leading Anishinaabe Environmental Activist and a representative from the International Indian Treaty Council.
Congresswoman Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s Fourth District, was also present, calling for “respect and dignity” for all people. A congressman from Minnesota’s Fifth District, Rep. Keith Ellison chimed from the rally as well, posting a photo with civil rights activist Dick Gregory.
In a series of tweets, McCollum said “We are here to tell @nfl there is no honor in a racial slur. It is time to change the mascot!”
By mid-morning, protesters were seen chanting with signs and holding up megaphones, according to the Star Tribune. Photos and comments using the hashtags #NotYourMascot, #ChangeTheName, and #nohonorinracism began flooding Twitter.
The location for the rally is significant in that Minnesota has a large Indian population – and has been the place for other protests against how Native Americans are represented in sports. The first major protest was during the 1991 World Series when the Twins played the Atlanta Braves – a team whose logo previously featured a “screaming Indian.” And when Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl in 1992 – where the Buffalo Bills faced off against Washington – thousands gathered to protest the name.
In a YouTube video of the rally Sunday, protesters are seen chanting in unison: “Hey hey, ho ho. The racist name has got to go.” // “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!” // “Change the name. Change the name!”
The Washington team name has been blasted by President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. Still, the controversy hasn’t dwindled – if anything, it’s only gotten more heated.
Last summer, nearly 50 Democratic U.S. senators called on the NFL to change the team name, marking the largest congressional effort to replace the term the senators called a racial slur. On Friday, a federal judge decided the NFL franchise could continue suing five Native Americans who take offense to the name, according to the Associated Press. The franchise claims that the name wasn’t deemed offensive when the trademarks were registered between 1967 and 1990. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), however, said they may ban the team name from broadcasts.