Organizers of a protest of the Redskins name before their road game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday expect "thousands" of people to participate, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The peaceful protest is being put on by the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis police. The plan calls for protestors to gather at Northrop Plaza on the campus of the University of Minnesota before marching to TCF Bank Stadium, where the game is being played, for a rally.
Expected speakers at the rally include include Indian reservation leaders, Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges, comedian and social activist Dick Gregory and former Vikings star Joey Browner.
“I think this demonstration is going to show the best of Minnesota,” U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, one of the rally speakers and one of the most outspoken opponents of the nickname on Capitol Hill, just a few miles from the team’s stadium in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., said to the Star-Tribune.
“Never in my history in dealing with issues like this have we had [this level] of solidarity of civil rights and human rights organizations and all the tribal people,” said Clyde Bellecourt, a longtime leader and co-founder of the American Indian Movement.
The protest will be the fourth of its size in the area against the use of Indian imagery since the Minnesota Twins-Atlanta Braves World Series in 1991, according to the report.
McCollum had requested in August that the University of Minnesota bar the use of the Redskins name from the stadium and promotional materials for the Nov. 2 game, and university president Eric Kaler said in response that the school would make "every effort" to do so. It was then reported that the university requested the Redskins to wear throwback jerseys with no team name or logo for the game.
The Vikings, who have leased the use of TCF Bank Stadium from the university while their new stadium is being constructed, said they were obligated by the NFL to treat the game like any other home game and thus wouldn't bar the use of the Redskins name. But the team said it was "sensitive to the issue."
Opposition to "Redskins" has grown over the past year, with critics labeling it an offensive and racist nickname. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and other team officials have remained adamant that they won't change the name, citing history and support for the name among Native Americans.
The Vikings and Redskins meet at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
- Ben Estes