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Redskins opponents planning demonstration, legal action

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Clyde Bellecourt and former Viking Joey Browner announce plans for a protest outside the Washington Redskins game at the Metrodome on Thursday, Nov. 7. MPR Phtoo/Tim Nelson

Opponents of the Washington Redskins name plan to march to the Metrodome to protest before tonight's Vikings game.

"We'll never, ever give up on this issue. We're inviting the whole public to join us," said American Indian Movement director Clyde Bellecourt outside the stadium Wednesday. "Everyone. We're drafting you, we're putting you into this national coalition on racism in sports and media. We're calling on everyone, no matter your color or your religious persuasion."

Bellecourt was joined by former Viking Joey Browner, who says he has Native American heritage. He also called for his one-time Washington, D.C. rivals to drop the name, calling it racist.

"I want to change the idea of idealizing, merchandising something that was a license to kill. This word 'redskin' was a license to kill," Browner said. "I don't stand for this word being appropriated any more. I want to change the consciouness of the professional community... we want the "R" word to be completely erased from the memory of the NFL."

It's the latest in a months-long nationwide campaign to try and persuade the Washington football team to drop its team name. Opponents unsuccessfully appealed to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to ban the use of the word for the Thursday night football game, the team's last appearance at the Metrodome before its torn down next year.

Opponents also tried a legal Hail Mary today. They filed a petition with Minnesota Management and Budget to try and win a hearing on the appropriation bonds planned to finance the project. A similar mechanism was used during a 2011 state budget battle. That time, though, the state took the bonds before the Supreme Court for a hearing on their constitutionality.

Attorney Larry Leventhal said today that the stadium bonds -- which are also appropriation bonds -- should also have an administrative hearing to determine if allowing the Washington Redskins to play in the new stadium would be a violation of human rights law and the public purpose requirement of the building.

"There has been no decision by the Supreme Court regarding stadium appropriation bonds. No decision that it has issued that it has even cited them," Leventhal said. "We're calling for that to happen."

Opponents will be gathering at 4:30 at 1113 E. Franklin Ave. to march to the Metrodome before the Vikings game tomorrow night.