A Minnesota congresswoman is pleading with her home state to not display any symbol or hint of the Washington Redskins’ name inside the Metrodome when they play the Vikings on Nov. 7.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) directed her request to Gov. Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson, co-chairs of the state Senate Legislative Committee on Minnesota Sports Facilities Bobby Joe Champion and Julie Rosen, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, City Council president Barbara Johnson, and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen.
“As you are aware, the Washington team is a privately owned business that chooses to use the disparaging and demeaning brand ‘Redskins’ as their mascot,” McCollum wrote. “In my view this NFL team’s mascot is an unacceptable racial slur disparaging to Native Americans and offensive to Minnesotans.
The congresswoman argued that since the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is financed by taxpayers it has “legal obligations” to ensure no one is offended.
“With regard to the NFL game on November 7th, it would be my hope that all state statutes, ordinances of the City of Minneapolis, and policies of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) regarding civil rights, non-discrimination, and affirmative action would be fully reviewed and applied with regard to displaying, publicly announcing, and promoting the Washington team’s racially disparaging name and logo.”
McCollum added that she’s read news reports that “the MSFA may have concerns about limiting the use of the Washington team’s name and logo, as requested by some Native American groups, due to contractual obligations with the NFL.”
“Such concerns should never trump the civil rights and anti-discrimination laws, ordinances, and policies of government bodies charged with defending and advancing the public interest,” she declared.
“The NFL and the owner of Washington’s football team have a right to free speech. Constitutional protections allow them to offend, degrade, and disparage any race, ethic [sp] group, religion, or person of any sexual orientation with their private funds within private spaces,” McCollum continued. “But the people of Minnesota do not have an obligation to open the doors of our public sports facility and allow a for-profit entity to display and promote their racial slur.”
“…As responsible and committed Minnesota leaders, I would urge you to take action to ensure that on November 7th the Metrodome remains a public venue where all Minnesotans, especially Native Americans, can work, watch, and enjoy a Vikings game without a hostile, degrading, and offensive racial slur inflicted upon them.”
McCollum doesn’t detail how she wants the name and logo replaced. She sent copies of the letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf.
McCollum is co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, but is not a Native American. The only two in Congress are caucus co-chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who has also come out against the Redskins’ name, and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union similarly asked the Vikings not to use the Redskins’ name when they visit.
The ACLU also asked that media covering the game not use the name or images of the Redskins. With a 2-4 record right now, many Washingtonians don’t want to see images of the Redskins, either.