US Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, was used to deliver a clear message urging US Bank to divest its $175 million from the Dakota Access Pipeline. During the NFL game on January 1 between the Vikings and the Chicago Bears, two water protectors climbed up a truss then rappelled down from a catwalk to hang a 10-foot by 40-foot NoDAPL banner that read “US Bank DIVEST #NoDAPL.” Three individuals were arrested, but were later released without charges being filed.
Two of the protestors “since dubbed protectors,” on social media and in the press, included Karl Zimmerman, who was wearing a Brett Favre Vikings jersey, and Sen Holliday, who brought a video camera to document the unfurling of the NoDAPL banner. Another person who was with them when they started their climb was also arrested. Carolyn Feldman, 27, was arrested on charges of obstructing the legal process, a misdemeanor, police said. Zimmerman and Holiday were arrested and booked for trespassing and burglary (possession of burglary tools) and then released Monday January 2 about 5 pm. Some reports say the trio was released without charges but others say the city can file charges anytime.
Holiday said in the video while suspended about 100 feet above the seats, “We are here today at the U.S. Bank Stadium in solidarity with water protectors from Standing Rock…we are urging US Bank to divest from the Dakota Access pipeline, a project threatening the tribe’s clean water supply.”
Activist spokeswoman Nina Roberson told the independent media organization Unicorn Riot, who videotaped the protest, “The two water protectors who hung the banner are experienced climbers and kept safety concerns in mind, remembering that the Dakota Access Pipeline is the biggest safety concern at hand.”
The NoDAPL banner got a lot of attention on social media and national exposure for #NoDAPL and the Divest movement. Over 28 million dollars in personal bank accounts have been withdrawn in 2016 from banks invested in DAPL and ETP, Scandinavian banks have pulled out or are selling their shares and some U.S. cities, organizations and institutions that do business with these banks will withdraw but have to honor contracts for 2017.
Police and stadium officials said their main concern regarding this incident was “public safety.” Speaking from jail to WCCO reporter Jeff Wagner, Zimmerman said that like police, safety was also on his mind and that of Holiday. “What’s relevant is that the Dakota Access Pipeline is unsafe, It’s unsafe for the residents of Bismarck, it’s unsafe for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and it is unsafe for the Missouri River.”
A recently formed group Minneapolis #NoDAPL issued a release that stated in part:
“US Bank has 175 million dollars in credit lines to Energy Transfer Partners, a parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline has grown in recent months, and the project has seen several major setbacks. Today, January 1st, marks the original deadline for completion of the pipeline. Today, the pipeline is still incomplete. Investors have the right to withdraw business contracts from the project, and we urge them to do so.
The pipeline’s route violates treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and poses a significant threat drinking water and the health of the Missouri River.”