MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A long-running dispute over the name of the Washington NFL franchise has flared up in Minnesota, where the construction of a new stadium for the Vikings has provided an entree for American Indian groups and supporters who consider the Redskins name and logo racist.
They’re asking the agency building the stadium to ban the word “Redskins” on publicly owned signs or address systems there, as well as at the existing Metrodome when the Vikings host Washington Nov 7. Opponents of the Redskins name say they’ll protest before the game.
“There are literally a score of federal, state, county, municipal laws in effect that all prohibit the offensive R-word, just like the N-word, from being used in an environment where the public assembles,” Alan Yelsey, an activist who helped make the request to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday.
MSFA Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen told the Star Tribune the board heard and understood those concerns when they were raised at last week’s meeting but that it’s too early to make a move.
“The NFL has very specific rules about what happens when teams play in our facility, and that’s what we’re looking at with the NFL and our attorneys,” she said. “At this point, I’m not even sure what our options would be.”
Stadium authority spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said the board may have a formal response next week.
President Barack Obama told The Associated Press last week the team should consider changing the name.
“I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama said.
Team owner Dan Snyder said in a letter to season-ticket holders Tuesday he respects the feelings of those who are offended. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,” he said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Tuesday he has never considered the name derogatory.
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