The costs to cities hosting NFL Super Bowl games are a glaring example of the economic and social burdens incurred for the sake of corporations and the wealthy. These include the new $1.2 billion dollar stadium, huge costs for and presence of massive security, displacement of the homeless, and allowing only Super Bowl ticket holders to ride the light rail system on game day. The average ticket costed over $5,000.
Numerous social justice groups held events and actions related to these things and police shootings in Minnesota and around the nation during Super Bowl weekend.
I recently wrote about US Bank saying they were going to stop funding fossil fuel projects, but who then extended further credit to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. They justified that by saying that loan was NOT to fund a specific project.
US Bancorp is the parent company of US Bank. Since US Bancorp’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and the Super Bowl was going to be held in the US Bank stadium there, environmental and social justice groups realized the opportunities to reach large numbers of people during the Super Bowl weekend.
I traveled to Minneapolis the day before the game with a group organized by Ed Fallon of Bold Iowa. We left Des Moines at 7:00 am and arrived at the MN350 (Minnesota branch of 350.org) at 11:30.
350MN was very well organized. The plans for locations, times, contact phone numbers, etc were well done. Marshalls wore fluorescent vests for easy identification. It wasn’t too cold (about 25 F), but was snowing. That was a challenge for me taking photos, both avoiding snow melting on the lens, and because automatic focus can be impaired by focusing on snowflakes instead of the subject.
This was not to be an action involving civil disobedience and arrest. Because there would be huge crowds near the bank, we traveled in small groups to that area, and then had a flash mob type of coming together at a specified time.
Walking downtown there was a heavy security presence and I wondered what the reaction would be to our demonstration. When the time arrived, more and more of us gathered in front of the bank. Banners began to be unfurled and our chant leader, Heather Pearson, who came with us in the van, began leading chants using a megaphone.
Interestingly, the police remained largely out of sight. A portable fence was quickly set up, separating us from the Super Bowl crowd, and we were allowed to stand and chant for at least half hour, while the snow began to fall more heavily.
It was also a surprise that so many of the pedestrians seemed supportive, even though we were making it harder for them to get around.
Next we marched together a few blocks to take over an intersection (auto traffic was already blocked off anyway) and various people addressed the crowd with the megaphone. One of the speakers was Donnielle Wanatee, who rode to Minneapolis in our van. She spoke about the epidemic of the missing and murdered Native American women. Christine Nobiss, founder of Indigenous Iowa, also spoke. Both of them had spoken to us at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) last summer on a panel about building bridges with indigenous peoples.
After the speakers, we continued marching about 10 blocks until we reached a highway overpass, where some held signs for the traffic below to see, and the rest of us dispersed to return to the 350MN offices. After a debriefing and some food, we headed home, arriving in Des Moines at 10 pm.