Thousands descended on the University of Minnesota during today’s Redskins/Vikings game, just not to see the two teams play. They were there as part of the #NotYourMascot protest, standing against Daniel Snyder and Washington’s use of the Redskins name for the team.
According to the Star Tribune, this is the fourth large local protest against Native American imagery in professional sports. The crowd was estimated at between three and five thousand participants, including Mayor Betsy Hodges and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. From the Star Tribune:
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges led the throng in a chant of “Change the Name.”
Hodges then said to the gathering, “I have a message to the Washington team: The clock is ticking on your name … it is more than an insult. It’s hate.”
Longtime Twin Cities activist Clyde Bellecourt condemned Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, telling the crowd that the name represents the scalping of Indians, which were then sold for money.
“We are standing up against this monster team that is here today and to this Jewish person who should know a little bit about genocide,” Bellecourt said in a reference to the Holocaust during WWII that left 6 million Jews dead under Nazi Germany.
“He should know a little bit about genocide,” Bellecourt reiterated, “the fact that Jewish people are still here today. There have been millions of people erased from the face of the Earth, scalped. Scalped! Their scalps taken to be sold for bounty. The blood running down the children’s faces. There were whole tribes that were totally decimated.”
This protest follows the news on Friday stating that the Washington Redskins can now sue a group that filed a petition to have their team trademark removed by the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office. From NBC News:
Yes, you read that right: For now, the Redskins – whose name everyone from President Obama to Sen. John McCain call offensive – can move forward with a suit against a group of Native Americans who take umbrage with the term.
The group, led by social worker Amanda Blackhorse, filed a petition back in 2006 against the name, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office responded this June, ruling that six Redskins trademark registrations should be canceled. Once the USPTO gave its ruling, the team went after the five individuals in court.
Yet Judge Gerald Bruce Lee met with lawyers from both sides in Alexandria, Virginia on the validity of the lawsuit, and he concluded that dismissing the Redskins suit would be unprecedented. Lee is expected to issue a formal written ruling at a later date on whether the lawsuit can proceed.