Minnesotans who want the football team from the nation's capital to change its name marched to the Metrodome in advance of the Washington Redskins' game with the Vikings.
Fox 9 reports the march started at the Minneapolis American Indian Center and slowed traffic as it covered nearly a mile before culminating with a rally outside the stadium. Speakers decried the football team's use of a nickname many consider a racial epithet that denigrates native people.
The Star Tribune estimated the crowd at 700. Their story quotes American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder Clyde Bellecourt, who told reporters this week “We want the R-word completely erased from the memory of the NFL.” The paper says AIM's lawyer has filed paperwork urging budget officials to request authority from the Minnesota Supreme Court to prohibit use of the Redskins name in the new Vikings stadium, which will be built partly with state dollars.
Reporters who cover the Redskins for the Washington Post called Thursday's protest much larger than similar demonstrations at the team's recent games in Green Bay and Denver. The Post says team officials declined to comment on the Minneapolis protest and cited a letter written last month by team owner Daniel Snyder saying he will not change the name.
In that letter, Snyder writes that he respects the feelings of those who are offended by the name, but hopes they will respect what the name means to the Washington Redskins family. Snyder notes that the team first used the Redskins name in 1933 when it played in Boston. "On that inaugural Redskins team, four players and our Head Coach were Native Americans," he writes. "The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor."