Rybak on Redskins: 'Long past time to change the name' - KMSP-TV

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Rybak on Redskins: 'Long past time to change the name'

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  • 6 Minneapolis City Council members voice disapproval of Redskins name

    Minneapolis City Council members open letter to Redskins

    Monday, November 4 2013 7:49 PM EST2013-11-05 00:49:27 GMT
    Flickr/Creative Commons/Jason RiedyFlickr/Creative Commons/Jason Riedy
    With a game against the Washington Redskins just three days away, six members of the Minneapolis City Council released an open letter calling on the team's owner to change the name and mascot.
    With a game against the Washington Redskins just three days away, six members of the Minneapolis City Council released an open letter calling on the team's owner to change the name and mascot.
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak released the a statement Thursday calling the Washington Redskins team name and logo "derogatory" and saying it is "long past time to change the name of Washington's NFL team."

The Vikings and Redskins play Thursday night on NFL Network, which will be televised locally on My29 WFTC. Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Read more: Protest of Redskins name may draw hundreds to Metrodome

Protestors plan to rally outside the stadium prior to the game to demand the team adopt a new moniker and mascot. Several local leaders are expected to attend.

The Oneida Indian Nation has praised Minnesota officials -- including Rybak, Gov. Mark Dayton, the St. Paul City Council and former Vikings player Joe Browner for taking a stand on the issue.

"We look forward to other NFL players, mayors, city council members and elected officials at the local, regional, state and federal levels stepping forward and following their example," Ray Halbritter said.

MAYOR RYBAK STATEMENT

It has never been right to disrespect the indigenous people of our country, and it is especially wrong to do it in 2013 with the name of a team that represents our nation's capital.

I stand with elected officials across the country, including members of the Minneapolis City Council, and many, many others who believe it is long past time to change the name of Washington's NFL team. It is deeply disappointing that calls for respect have not been heard, and I will join others in looking for ways to bring change, including urging those who agree to boycott merchandise of the Washington Football Franchise.

I have a son who lives in Washington who, thankfully, remains a Viking fan, but if he ever changes allegiance, he should not count on his dad buying him anything that uses their derogatory name and logo.

DAYTON: "I BELIEVE THE NAME SHOULD BE CHANGED"

Gov. Mark Dayton held a news conference Thursday to address Minnesota's narrowing student achievement gap but made mention of tonight's football matchup, saying he thinks the Redskins name is racist.

"I believe the name should be changed," Dayton said, suggesting every member of Congress take action on the hotly contested issue.

CHANGE THE NAME CAMPAIGN

The American Indian movement, the ACLU and many others have been calling for change for quite some time. The groups asked the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to ban the use or display of the Redskins name on game night, but officials said that would violate the right to free speech.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum has been heralded as "a leading force" in the campaign. She sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and others to argue that the Metrodome is a public facility, arguing that Minnesotans are under no obligation to condone a racial slur in that space.

Just last week, multiple members of the Minneapolis City Council also sent an open letter to the team's owner and the commissioner of the NFL, urging them to change the name. The St. Paul City Council also sent an open letter to expressing their disapproval of the name and mascot.

Former Vikings safety Joe Browner spoke out in front of the Metrodome on Wednesday, saying, "As a professional player, they always talk about sportsmanship, being a good community leader, saying the right things at the right time and doing the right things at the right time. For me, this is the right time to speak out."

"I want to show that I'm indigenous, and I want to show a conscious awareness to the world," Browner explained. "We need to change the imagery presented to our children."

On Thursday, the Oneida Indian Nation debuted a new radio ad called "Holdout" that is airing on KFAN. That spot calls on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to demand a name change.

In recent months, a growing number of officials -- including President Barack Obama,  senior members of Congress in both parties, and civil rights leaders -- have spoken out on the issue.

"The question now facing the NFL and team owner Dan Snyder is which side of history they want to be on." Halbritter said. "It's a question many Americans are asking themselves, as evidenced by the surge in support for ending use of this harmful racial epithet."

POSSIBLE LEGAL ACTION?

Local activists do plan to file legal action to argue that officials overseeing the new Vikings stadium should be able to bar the Washington logo and name on the property since public funds will be used to build it. 

After rumors began to swirl online regarding the move, the American Indian Movement issued the following statement to clarify their motive:

We want to take a moment to address certain rumors regarding our recent legal action:

We are petitioning the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget to follow the intent of the new stadium legislation that calls for the public to be involved in the validation of the bonding, the use of public funds for the construction of the new stadium, because we believe there are violations regarding the construction and usage of the new stadium that discriminates against American Indian people, minority contractors and the taxpayers of Minnesota.

The petition to the State argues that the State has a free and transparent process involving all aspects pertaining to the construction of the new stadium, the administration of the new stadium authorized by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the funding of the stadium and how the stadium will be used for the public's interest. We believe it is in the public's interest for the Minnesota Supreme Court to hear all concerns regarding any bond appropriations and a process that allows Minnesota citizens a voice regarding the expenditure of precious public moneys without harming any people and denying anyone the right to enjoy events subsidized by the public.

Our petition understands the importance of the new stadium to all industries that will be involved in the construction and operation. We appreciate that the new stadium will have a substantial presence of contractors and sub-constructors from all protective classes including American Indian people. Our petition supports the construction of the new stadium and all of its benefit.

We are in no way against the construction of the new stadium.

 

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