Vikings Fans Stand Up to Protesters Kneeling for Anthem

A line of Vikings fans stood up–literally–to protesters kneeling during the national anthem outside US Bank Stadium before the Ravens game. But you’d never know it from the Associated Press version of the standoff, which was distributed nationwide on the press service wire. I ran across it online in the Washington Post.

Protesters kneeled outside of U.S. Bank Stadium before the Minnesota Vikings’ game against the Baltimore Ravens.

About 50 people took part in the demonstration Sunday while the national anthem played inside the Minneapolis stadium. The protesters say they want to raise awareness about shootings by police officers.

Organizer Mel Reeves says the protest was not about the Vikings, the United States flag or the national anthem. He says they are “simply trying to bring attention to this national problem.”

But the Star Tribune highlighted the strong reaction of numerous fans waiting to enter the stadium. The headline of the story in the print version of the paper read “Protesters kneeling during anthem riles up some outside Vikings game.”

The sound of the national anthem ahead of Sunday’s Vikings game prompted about 50 people to kneel outside of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as they protested police violence, drawing stares and some booing from passing fans.

The protesters chanted and waved cardboard signs with messages like “Got privilege?” and “Stop pretending your racism is patriotism.” They were flanked by crowds awash in horned helmets and purple jerseys, as lines of Vikings enthusiasts made their way into the stadium.

The protesters’ in-your-face tactics did not go over well with many fans, some of whom let the protesters know freedom of expression goes both ways.

The raised signs were at times met by boos and middle fingers hoisted into the air by fans walking by.

Some squinted from the ticket lines to read the words protesters held. When the group at the rally knelt during the national anthem, one man looking on said, “That’s wrong.”

The AP will have another opportunity to get the story right. The protesters plan a replay by showing up before every Vikings home game. Judging from the pre-game exchange yesterday, there will also be plenty of fans suggesting they take a hike instead of a knee.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Aleia Harer as she stood in line at Sunday’s game. “It’s their freedom of speech but do we agree with it? No.”

Nearby, Minnesota native Travis Undestad also waited to get inside the stadium — his first visit to the Vikings’ new facility.

“Keep politics and football separate,” said Undestad, who was visiting from Florida. “I’m here to watch the game.”