Group kneels at Vikings stadium to protest police brutality

Black Lives Matter held a
Protesters take a knee as the national anthem plays inside the Vikings game at US Bank Stadium.
Ellen Schmidt | MPR News

About 60 demonstrators kneeled and held signs outside U.S. Bank Stadium before the Vikings game Sunday.

Organizer Mel Reeves said they hoped to bring attention to the issue of police brutality.

"This isn't about the Vikings," said Reeves. "It's not about the flag, it's not about the anthem, it's simply about trying to bring attention to this national problem."

The protest was inspired by some NFL players, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who have knelt in protest during the national anthem.

Most Vikings fans streaming into the stadium for the game walked by the kneeling protesters without comment. Although some fans joined the protest or expressed support, many shouted profanities or gave a thumbs down sign.

John Thompson chants "No justice, no peace" at the Vikings game on Sunday.
Activist John Thompson speaks to rally-goers as they choose to take a knee during the national anthem at the Vikings game.
Ellen Schmidt | MPR News

Jnana Hand traveled from Duluth with her 10-year-old daughter Ava to attend the protest. She held a sign that read "protest is patriotic."

"At this time, when so many things are under attack, our lives and our environment, I just want to show her all the positive things that people are doing to stand up," Hand said.

Kevin Johnson was going to the game with friends. He's followed the discussion around athletes kneeling during the anthem and said he's mostly sided with Kaepernick.

"It's really not harming anyone," Johnson said. "I don't understand how people don't understand that it's free speech, and that it's totally OK to do that."

Another Vikings fan, Chris Orwick, said the football game isn't the right venue for the protest.

"There's a lot of ways to go about it, this just isn't one of them. Go to Capitol Hill, go to lawmakers, deal with the police departments," Orwick said. "This is a time to just enjoy the game, not that it's not an issue, there's just a better way to do it."

Sandi Sherman protests with Black Lives Matter outside US Bank Stadium.
Sandi Sherman rallies before the Vikings game outside US Bank Stadium.
Ellen Schmidt | MPR News

As the national anthem played inside the stadium, protesters outside silently kneeled and raised their fists. Most of the fans lined up outside waiting to get in didn't react to the song or kneeling protesters, but a few near the protest stood still and placed their hands over their hearts.

Mel Reeves said they plan to organize similar protests at other Vikings home games this season.

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