MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Officials with U.S. Bank Stadium said Tuesday a group of protesters at Sunday’s Vikings game had tickets and concealed equipment for their protest under winter clothing.
Three people were arrested Sunday after two of them, Sen Holiday and Karl Zimmermann, rappelled from stadium rafters next to a banner that read “U.S. Bank, DIVEST #NoDAPL.” The incident started in the second quarter of the Vikings victory over the Bears, and they remained there for the rest of the game.
Authorities at the scene had them stay there due to safety reasons and to avoid confrontation with other fans after the game. Other Vikings fans in seats below were evacuated by stadium workers due to safety concerns.
SMG, a managing partner of U.S. Bank Stadium, said in a statement Tuesday that Holiday and Zimmermann entered the stadium as ticketed guests. They brought in nylon rope, a number of carabiners and the banner under their winter clothing. The items were distributed among the protesters, and went undetected by stadium security workers.
SMG officials said they had nothing visible that violated U.S Bank Stadium policies, such as weapons or explosives. Officials also said they gained unauthorized access to the ridge truss by scaling industry standard physical barriers designed to prevent entry. SMG said the safety of all guests at U.S. Bank Stadium continues to be primary concern for all stadium partners.
Holiday and Zimmermann both spoke at a news conference they called Tuesday near U.S. Bank Stadium, but they would not address how they got their equipment in. Their focus was keeping the attention on the Dakota Access Pipeline. They said they were willing to face jail time for the stunt.
“It’s worth it to us, because of the threat that is involved here, the threat to groundwater and threat to indigenous people,” Zimmermann said. “They’ve had their land stolen, culture destroyed for hundreds of thousands of years.”
SMG and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority say they’ve taken immediate steps to to implement design changes to prevent any future unauthorized access. Stadium officials say it remains their intent to pursue charges against the protesters.