Protest of Redskins name may draw hundreds to Metrodome - FOX 35 News Orlando

Protest of Redskins name may draw hundreds to Metrodome

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

When the Minnesota Vikings face off against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night at the Metrodome, fans may be passing through a large protest of the visiting team's moniker and mascot.

Several local groups have made themselves quite clear -- they want the Washington Redskins to ditch the name and mascot they say is racist. In fact, the American Indian movement, the ACLU and many others have been calling for change for quite some time.

At first, the groups asked the sports 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.

Next, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum 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.

On Wednesday, the Oneida Indian Nation announced a new radio ad called "Holdout" will air on KFAN beginning on Thursday. That spot calls on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to demand a name change.

"Roger Goodell should use his power to do the right thing and change Washington's team name," the ad says.

Preparations are already well underway for the rally on Thursday as well. Beginning in the afternoon, Clyde Bellecourt will lead hundreds of activists from the American Indian Center to the Metrodome.

"It's time for it to go," Bellecourt insisted. "We're saying, 'The r-word is no different than the n-word.'"

Other advocates for civil rights -- including Tyrone Terrill, with the African American Leadership Council -- will be by their side.

"It's pretty much what Dr. King summed up many years ago. A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Terrill said. "We have to stand with our brothers and sisters from the native community to say no to this. It's an injustice."

Some even gathered outside the stadium on Wednesday to speak out against the Redskins name and voice their disapproval of its use in the upcoming game. Former Viking Joey Browner was among those critics.

"For me -- being an indigenous man, being a part of the NFL -- it's time to change that because 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," he said. "For me, this is the right time to speak out against that."

Another former Viking, Matt Blair, told Fox 9 News he sees the situation differently.

"I don't look at it that way," he said. "I look at it as, 'It's football.' When I play the Washington Redskins, that's all I think about.'"

Blair spent 12 years in the NFL, and he said he respects the opinion of those who want to remove the name, but he said it could take away the team's history.

"It would be strange to change their name and say, 'What team was that?'" he said.

Redskin fan Cyrus Kubicek will walk past the protestors to attend the game on Thursday. He is in town to visit his beloved father and catch the game, and he told Fox 9 News he believes the issue is "a little blown out of proportion."

"I would be disappointed to see it changed, honestly," he said.

Despite the City Council in Washington, D.C., also calling on the team to adopt a new name, owner Dan Snyder said he stands by the mascot and will not change it because of the long history behind it.

However, those who will march on Thursday say they don't intend to quit.

"We will never, ever give up on this issue," Bellecourt vowed.

In fact, the group plans to file a lawsuit to try and block the use of the team's name and logo in the new Vikings stadium that will be built in the coming years.

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