Police ready for holiday, protests

Thousands are expected to protest against the “Redskins” name on campus Sunday.

by Nick Wicker

With Halloween on Friday and expansive protests planned for Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings game against the Washington Redskins, police and University of Minnesota staff are gearing up for what looks to be a busy weekend.

The events should boost campus foot traffic, said Minneapolis police Public Information Officer John Elder, and he said additional police units will patrol areas where heightened activity is likely.

But he said the bump in the number of officers doesn’t mean there will be an increase in crimes or arrests.

Since Halloween falls on a Friday, the upcoming weekend could be “comparable” to Homecoming weekend, University of Minnesota police Lt. Troy Buhta said. UMPD issued 60 citations between Friday and Sunday of that weekend.

University police made three alcohol-related arrests on Halloween in 2012 and four on the 2013 holiday, Buhta said. Neither of those Halloweens fell on a weekend.

“We’re going to be teaming up with our partners from Minneapolis,” he said. “We realize it’s a big party night.”

In addition to the typical patrols, Buhta said UMPD’s Coordinated Response Team will also monitor campus and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Buhta said Halloween’s activity could possibly influence law enforcement’s workload Saturday night.

“I guess it matters how hard they hit it Friday night,” he said.

Thousands expected to protest outside TCF Bank Stadium

Two days after Halloween, thousands of people are expected to protest outside TCF Bank Stadium while the Minnesota
Vikings play the Washington Redskins on the field inside.

Protest groups have stated that as many as 5,000 demonstrators will come to rally against the visiting team’s name. But Tim Busse, University Services spokesman and a chairman of the University’s group that handles large-scale special events, said his own estimates are closer to 3,000.

He said the University worked closely with event organizers from the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, as well as Minneapolis and Metro Transit police, to help organize the protests and ensure that they go smoothly.

“We want them to be able to express their First Amendment rights as they do their march on University Avenue,” Busse said. “But … balance, with that, the fact that Viking fans will be arriving at about that time.”

On Sunday morning, a group of protesters will leave from the American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center on Franklin Avenue East and march to Northrop Plaza, a press release said. Another crowd, led by the American Indian Student Cultural Center, will arrive at Northrop from Coffman Union, a University spokesperson said.

Busse said protesters will then make their way down University Avenue, stretches of which will be closed by Minneapolis police for this influx of pedestrian traffic, depending on turnout. Busse said hopefully at least one lane will remain open to car traffic.

Minneapolis police Public Information Officer Scott Seroka said because the protests will happen just outside of MPD’s jurisdiction, the department will leave enforcement at the demonstrations to UMPD.

Busse said protesters will end up on the grassy area on the stadium’s south side, which will be outfitted with a stage and speaker systems.

The University supports the protests at TCF in condemning what it calls an “offensive and inappropriate” football team name, according to an Oct. 23 press release from the school.