Protests against the Dakota Access pipeline have officially penetrated professional sports. A flag reading “Divest” and #noDAPL was hung across US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings played Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Protests against the controversial Dakota Access pipeline have been headlining North Dakota energy news for the past several months, gaining international attention. Those who protest against the pipeline claim it will eventually lead to tainted water supplies.
The pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, maintains the pipeline would use the latest technology and poses no danger to water or land near and around the pipeline. The project is nearly complete. However, in December, the Army Corp of Engineers announced it will look for an alternate route for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota after several months of constant protests against its construction.
Yet many protesters are worried that the new Trump Administration will overturn any order to halt pipeline construction of the project, which is funded in part by U.S. Bank. Mr. Trump also owns stock in the parent company.
On Sunday, anti-pipeline protesters decided to increase the visibility of their efforts by lowering a banner at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during the NFL match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, releasing a flag that called for U.S. Bank to divest from the project.
Witnesses watched as 32-year-old Karl Zimmerman and 26-year-old Sen Holiday climbed over a guard rail to gain access to the rafters, according to NFLnewsdesk.com. The sources reports:
The protesters continued to dangle, waving and spinning and making calls, as police and fire officials gathered.
While the game never stopped, and officials did not appear to comment on the sideshow, fans and spectators in the stadium watched as those in the seats below the protest flag were removed. Suzanne Fiesel, a Vikings fan attending the game, commented on the action:
Firefighters are supposed to be repelling down to the protesters. Two shows for the price of one today! Protesters are finally coming down. A few people are cheering, but overall mostly boos. We can hear booing across the stadium.
According to KFGO, a third person, Carolyn Feldman, was also arrested, but it’s unclear her role in the Sunday afternoon incident.
Formal charges are expected Tuesday. The protesters are also expected to make a statement regarding the incident on Tuesday.