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Carleton students protest at Super Bowl

<turday, Feb. 3, eighteen Carls went to Minneapolis to take part in protests and actions before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4. A number of different actions, organized by different groups, took place in the Twin Cities throughout the weekend; Carls participated in two of these. The group was funded by CSA Senate.

“We may have listed CORAL as the budget we were using, because you have to list an organization, but it was not a student-org thing,” said Riley Irish ’19, a member of CORAL and one of the people who organized the trip. “A couple of people were talking about interest in the different events that were going on, and we all messaged each other to the point where we were like all right, we can do this, and we went through the CSA process and we got funding. It was just people who were interested, came together and made it happen.”

The events Carls participated in were two of many going on in the Twin Cities this past weekend. Irish said, “There was a number of different community organizations within Minneapolis that recognize that with the Super Bowl comes a lot of out-of-town visitors, a lot of visibility and a lot of media.” Some of the organizations involved in the protests include CTUL (Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En Lucha), YPAC (Young Peoples Action Coalition), and Minnesota 350, according to Irish.

The first action was a protest of U.S. Bank, the bank that funds the Super Bowl stadium, and also invests in the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, according to Irish. Ilan Friedland ’21, another organizer, said that this first protest’s goal was “to demand US Bank, whose stadium was hosting the Super Bowl, to divest from DAPL and continue the fight against environmental injustice/indigenous land theft.” This event “was on Nicollet Mall and inspired a lot of reactions from passersby,” said Friedland.

Kate Rosenfeld ’20 was working for NBC at the Super Bowl this past weekend. “I didn’t actually see any of the protests in person,” she said. “I think that they were probably congregated where a lot of the fans were. People weren’t really talking about [the protests]. The only thing I really heard about it was from other Carleton students who were either planning on going or were just talking about them.
“It was definitely on the back of my mind, for sure,” she said. “But it was such a chaotic weekend that it was kind of hard to focus on it. And I was kind of surprised that it didn’t seem like it was commented on at all on any ends of people who were attending the game or working for the game or anything like that.”

The second action that Carls participated in had a different goal. “We went to Young People’s Action Coalition,” said Irish. “Students in high school lead these actions with the help of people who have been doing this kind of work for a while.”

This protest took place in a residential neighborhood, home to a school board member, according to Irish and Friedland. “There was an official from the school board who lived in that neighborhood who was highly supportive of SROs, which are Student Resource Officers, or police officers, who work in the public school system,” said Irish.

“The students within that system feel as though that’s not the proper way for resources to be spent and were hoping to have social workers or people that can help them find colleges and other resources that are often limited for public school students.”

“The board member was in her house and didn’t come outside until ten minutes after we left (when she took down the signs we put up around her house),” said Friedland. “So it definitely got her attention.”

“I think for a lot of us that was a powerful thing to be a part of, because it was very targeted, it was led by people who really knew what was going on and were concerned about their community,” said Irish.

The goals of the protests did not include protesting the Super Bowl or football, but rather their effects on Minneapolis and its residents.
“I personally watch the Super Bowl—I like the Philadelphia Eagles, I enjoyed watching them win,” said Irish. “What is difficult with something like this [is that] the nuances of it kind of get blurred.

“The way that most people who are organizing were talking about the Super Bowl was as being this event as something that is a burden on the host city. Just police forces alone, that’s being paid for by public dollars. That’s not the NFL coming in and hosting this huge, money-making event. They’re relying on the Minneapolis government and the city of Minneapolis for all these things, and prioritizing themselves over people.”

“While we weren’t protesting the Super Bowl itself, I do think I would ask people who are going to think about their complicity in the issues that go into the creation of the Super Bowl,” said Friedland.

 “Tons of super sketchy companies have money riding on essentially a display of capitalist excess. Poor and homeless communities are having city services sacrificed in order for resources to redirect towards Super Bowl purposes. People can enjoy football and basically anything can be problematized, but it is basically a modern-day Gladiator spectacle, and I think people need to be considering that when buying tickets or participating in Super Bowl celebrations,” they said.

“Part of why this event was centered around the Super Bowl was that we’ve seen NFL players kneeling during the national anthem for racial justice,” said Irish. “The fact that those athletes are being so visible, I think, was reflected in the number of people and the amount of noise that was made about this event.”

Irish and Friedland hope that similar events will happen in the future. “It’s really easy to forget that the real world operates outside our campus, it’s easy to think of our community as the extent of society during our time here,” said Friedland. “But we still got 18 people off campus and that feels like a success! I’m hoping this sort of organizing continues over the next months, and I feel hopeful about mobilization especially in relation to this week’s convo speaker.”

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