Change the Name protesters march on Metrodome over 'R-word' - KMSP-TV

Change the Name protesters march on Metrodome over 'R-word'

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Photo by Leah Beno Photo by Leah Beno
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Woman, father who have been protesting since the 90s | Photo by Leah Beno Woman, father who have been protesting since the 90s | Photo by Leah Beno

Despite the cold, hundreds of marchers made their way to the Metrodome on Thursday night prior to the Minnesota Vikings game against the Washington Redskins to protest the visiting team's name and mascot.

"Just to educate 'em what the name means, why it's a racial slur," said Mike Forcia.

The group walked nearly a mile to get to the stadium just before 6:10 p.m., and some Washington fans booed their arrival.

Activists began gathering at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, located on Franklin Avenue, shortly before 5 p.m. Many carried signs and were bundled up -- a clear sign they were ready to spend some significant time voicing their concerns.

"That name would be the equivalent of the N-word for the black community," Forcia explained.

One of the marchers told Fox 9 News she has been protesting the issue with her father since the 1990s. Several local leaders, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, were in attendance.

"I am so glad you are all here to ask Dan Snyder to write a new chapter in history in which native people are honored," McCollum, one of two American Indians in Congress and co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said.

The march, which began just after 5:30 p.m., was lead by native women as the group made its way nearly a mile toward the stadium.

"Women are the backbone of indigenous communities and responsible for the moral education of both the boys and girls," protester Reyna Crow said.

Traffic on Franklin Avenue slowed to a stop as the marchers made their way.

After arriving at a grassy hill near the Metrodome, protesters rallied -- holding signs and chanting that the team must adopt a new moniker and mascot that is not disparaging to Native Americans.

The sea of purple before the game transitioned into an ocean of anger as hundreds of protesters ripped the Washington team's owner, Dan Snyder, for refusing to change the name.

"You have to put yourself in other people's shoes to kind of understand where they are coming from," Russ Adams urged.

With the team in town, local Native American groups and their supporters took the opportunity to say that while they certainly are not against the NFL, they will not tolerate a racial slur.

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura spoke at the rally just minutes after its arrival.

"It wakes this country up to the fact that this name should have never been used in the first place and it's time to correct it," Ventura said.

Local activists have been speaking out and seeking action for weeks, even asking the stadium authority to block the use and display of the logo and name; however, officials ruled that would violate free speech.

Many Minnesota politicians -- including McCollum, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, and city council members from both Minneapolis and St. Paul -- have urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Dan Snyder to adopt a change.

On Thursday, Rybak released a strongly-worded statement that read in part: "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."

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