The Minnesota budget commissioner has rejected a petition by American Indian activists to stop the state from issuing bonds for the new Vikings stadium until it can be assured that the word “Redskins,” the Washington football team’s nickname and logo, will not appear anywhere in the new facility.
Larry Leventhal, the activists’ attorney, said Monday that he would appeal the decision by James Showalter, head of Minnesota Management and Budget, to Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday.
Last week, Leventhal filed the petition on behalf of the American Indian Movement; Clyde Bellecourt, one of its leaders; and Joey Browner, a former Vikings player who is of American Indian descent.
Leventhal contended in the petition that “Redskin” is a slur and violates federal public accommodation laws, state and city civil rights legislation and a United Nations declaration on indigenous peoples. He asked Showalter to hold a hearing and obtain a ruling from the state Supreme Court.
In a memorandum Friday, Showalter said that he “is not authorized to enforce local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws or United Nations covenants or declarations.”
He said that neither the law that provides for issuing the bonds, nor any other law, requires him to hold a hearing to determine whether the stadium will violate laws banning discriminatory actions.
He said a previous state Supreme Court decision on another issue backs him up.
Leventhal said Monday that he believes Showalter has the authority to take up the controversy but doesn’t want to do it. Leventhal noted that Dayton had publicly criticized the use of the nickname.
“This puts the governor to the test. Does he give as much attention to a situation he has found to be racist, or does he give an extra push to the issuance of the bonds?” he asked. □
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224