MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Nearly 700 protesters marched 20 blocks to the Metrodome on Thursday night, rallying in hopes that the Washington Redskins football team will change its mascot name, as the squad was in town to play the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday morning that he also thinks the Washington Redskins should change their team name, as controversy continues to brew. President Obama, the DC Council and other American Indian groups have also voice their distaste for the term.
"I think it's racist," Dayton said, adding that every effort is being made not to use the team's name during their game against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome.
Included in the Thursday night rally were former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges.
"I don't want people saying, 'Oh kill the Redskins, beat the Redskins,'" said 16-year-old Francisco Reyes. "We are not a mascot and we don't deserve to be cartooned."
The last demonstration in the Twin Cities over the Redskins name was in 1993. Reyes said his parents and grandparents have been part of this fight for decades. Now, he feels the need to join.
"I've been to a Minnesota Twins versus Cleveland Indians game and I just hear people using their hands and making the noise," he said. "I don't want to be thought of as a joke."
Dayton added his voice to the protest Thursday morning but also admitted, Minnesotans are limited in what they can do.
"If this is going to be a successful effort, it needs to be a concerted effort focused on the team, on the owner, on the directors of the franchise and that's better able to be done in Washington than anywhere else in this country," he said.
Dayton isn't the only politician to make a statement against the Redskins' name. Six members of the Minneapolis City Council recently sent a letter to the team's owner and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling the team's nickname and mascot racist.
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