The Vikings-Bears Game Was Interrupted By A Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Involving A Large Banner

A New Year’s Day game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears in Minneapolis was interrupted by two protesters calling attention to U.S. Bank Stadium’s namesake and its financial involvement in the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Local sports reporters on the scene first called attention to the matter on Twitter when two men, including one dressing in an old Brett Favre Vikings jersey, repelled from the rafters after unfurling a large banner that read “U.S. Bank DIVEST #NoDAPL.”

Dawn Mitchell, a sports anchor with the Minneapolis Fox affiliate, posted several videos and tweets about the protest as it happened. “I’m hopeful security officials are working on it,” she wrote, adding that “cops [were] waiting to arrest both guys” in a subsequent tweet.

Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune Bears reporter Brad Biggs posted several photos of the two men and the seating section below them. Police immediately began clearing the unknown section soon after the protesters appeared, presumably as a safety precaution.

Mitchell also posted a video of the cleared section, noting that the “dangerous” act was “now displacing fans who paid to see this game.”

In an official statement received by Star Tribune Vikings reporter Matt Vensel, climbers Sen Holiday and Karl Zimmermann explained their act was one of “solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock.”

The protesters’ statement didn’t explain how Holiday and Zimmermann managed to sneak all of their equipment into U.S. Bank Stadium while avoiding detection. However, in a subsequent release by officials on the scene, it was revealed the two men had “climbed over a guard rail to access the ridge truss.” Minneapolis police, fire department officials and other emergency personnel were immediately dispatched to the stadium to protect game attendees while trying to safely get Holiday and Zimmermann down from the rafters.

Such was evidenced by Mitchell, Biggs and Post-Bulletin reporter Brett Boese’s ongoing tweets documenting the protest and the authorities’ response.

UPDATE #1: It appears Minneapolis police officers decked out in climbing and repelling gear are preparing to move in on Holiday and Zimmermann.

Meanwhile, one of Mitchell’s anonymous sources revealed SMG — the company in charge of managing U.S. Stadium Bank — “failed an independent survey this season on how their security and services performed.”

UPDATE #2: Local sports reporter Brian Murphy, citing sources with the Minneapolis police and fire departments, said emergency personnel equipped with climbing gear won’t move in on Holiday and Zimmermann “until stadium empties” after the game. Additional tweeted updates from journalists on the scene seemed to confirm this, as the police climbers seen scaling the rafters earlier haven’t descended from their current positions.

UPDATE #3: As soon as the Vikings-Bears game came to a close, Holiday and Zimmermann climbed back up into the rafters and surrendered to the authorities. The Post-Bulletin‘s Boese documented the entire exchange from his section, which became rather heated as fans began booing the protesters vehemently.