Arriving in Minnesota to play their scheduled Sunday afternoon match, Washington football players were greeted by thousands of Native Americans and supporters who were there to declare: "We are not your mascot!"
According to the Washington Post, at least two thousand demonstrators carried signs, banged drums and chanted outside the University of Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, in what organizers expect will be the largest-ever protest against the name of the Washington Redskins. Participants traveled from as far as Kentucky, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma.
"'Redskins' is an offensive racial slur and stereotype. The continued use of mascots and team names in sports has resulted in widespread racial, cultural, and spiritual stereotyping that promotes hatred and disrespect toward Native people," wrote the protest organizers, a coalition of grassroots organizations dubbed #NotYourMascot. The coalition includes local chapters of Idle No More, local chapters of the American Indian Movement, United Urban Warrior Society, Protect Our Manoomin, Twin Cities Save the Kids, Minnesota Two Spirit Society and several other organizations.
According to 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.'"
Despite the growing criticism of the mascot, which many say is 'inherently racist' and 'disparaging' of Native Americans, team owner Daniel Snyder has vowed that he will "never" change the team's name.
The Star-Tribune estimated that at least 3,000 protesters were present by 10:30 AM while some reports said the crowd was as big as 4,000.