Two protesters with a “U.S. Bank Divest” banner to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline hung from a truss more than a hundred feet above the first deck of U.S. Bank Stadium for most of the Minnesota Vikings game against the Chicago Bears.
The two protesters were identified as Sen Holiday and Karl Mayo and they hung next to the banner, secured by a rappelling rope, about midway in the first half until the end of the game. Mayo was wearing a Brett Favre Vikings jersey.
Security cleared six rows of fans in the first deck below them.
“Two individuals appear to have climbed over a guard rail to access the ridge truss,” stadium managers SMG said in a statement released at halftime. “We immediately dispatched on-site Minneapolis police and fire departments to the scene and cleared the seating section below.
“We are working with all stadium partners, and our primary focus is on the safety of the fans and these two individuals. Officials are actively working to get them down safety. We will continue to update media on the situation.”
After the game ended and much of the crowd had exited the stadium after a 38-10 win, the protesters ascended back to the truss, were handcuffed and taken to jail by police. They are being charged with burglary and trespassing, both gross misdemeanors.
Head coach Mike Zimmer and several players said they were unaware of the protest that lasted for the final three quarters of the game with Mayo and Holiday hanging next to the banner that was approximately 40 feet long.
“Anything between the 100-yard lines I notice, but not that,” Zimmer said. “I swear to God I didn’t see them, not once.”
Some players admitted they saw the protesters and others were made aware of the protesters after the game.
“That was interesting,” receiver Adam Thielen said. “They got some balls, that’s for sure.”
A Vikings official said the fans that were displaced from the seating below the protesters were moved to a suite in the stadium.
It was just another bizarre event in a very strange Vikings season that started with a season-ending knee injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on a non-contact play during an Aug. 30 practice, included three starting offensive tackles being lost for the season before the midpoint, offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigning on Nov. 1, and Zimmer undergoing four surgeries to try to repair a torn retina in his right eye.
“Why wouldn’t the season finish like that?” quarterback Sam Bradford said of the protesters. “It’s just been that kind of a year.”