Galvanized by what they see as corporate dominance over the upcoming Super Bowl, a coalition of activist groups plans to protest the Feb. 4 game.
Jess Sundin, an organizer for Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar Clark, said she expects "several hundred" people for the protest to call attention to stubborn racial and economic disparities around the state and demand an end to police brutality. Her group joined the loose coalition that is calling itself the Super Bowl Anti-Racist Anti-Corporation Coalition.
Organizers expect to announce the list of protest targets at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
"From Jamar Clark and Justine Damond, to Philando Castile and Phil Quinn, justice has been denied for these and many other lives stolen by Minneapolis and St. Paul cops," said the coalition in a news release. "Local officials are spending millions to roll out the red carpet for the NFL, making Minneapolis worse for the poor and working people who live here."
Sundin sees the game and its numerous sideshows, which run from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4, as an emblem of corporate greed — at odds with the interests of "the people," while siphoning attention from pressing issues like affordable housing, homelessness and school funding.
"The amount of resources invested in hosting this event could have been spent in solving real problems," she said. "We have bus drivers who barely settled their contracts, and schoolteachers who are trying to settle their contracts."
The protest will start with a rally at Peavey Park on Super Bowl Sunday, followed by a march to U.S. Bank Stadium. Organizers insisted on keeping the exact route secret.
Sundin said that they were unconcerned with the overwhelming security surrounding the game, which officials have said will resemble that of a presidential inauguration.
Starting on the Friday before the game, only those people with a ticket to the game will be allowed into the secure perimeter stretching roughly 2½ blocks in every direction around the stadium. The first visible signs of the increased security began popping up earlier this week, as workers started installing chain-link fence and concrete barricades on a handful of streets surrounding the stadium.
On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced plans to activate state National Guard troops to assist local officials, according to a news release from his office.
"Our shared priority is to ensure that all Minnesotans and over one million expected visitors have safe and enjoyable experiences, as we showcase the Bold North to the world," Dayton said in reference to the request for additional manpower from city officials.
Police spokesman John Elder said the department is waiting to hear from protesters about their specific concerns. Before then, he said, police would not comment on the planned demonstration.
"It's tough for us to make any comment until we hear what it is, whether it's allegations or finger-pointing," Elder said, adding that the department wants to make sure to protect the public's safety while also giving protesters an opportunity for their message to be heard. "We have had a long history of working with people who want to protest and we work with them in order to ensure that they have their First Amendment rights, as well as ensuring their safety," he said.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany