Minnesota Vikings fan victim of hate speech at stadium

A Minnesota attorney says he was verbally assaulted with hate speech from a belligerent Minnesota Vikings fan at Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

In an op-ed in the Star Tribune, Deepinder Mayell, the director of the Advocates for Human Rights’ refugee and immigrant program, wrote that a man in his section approached him in the stands and demanded to know if he was a refugee, claiming he needed to “make sure” he was not a refugee.

The 35-year-old told Fox 9 he and three friends reported the incident to security staff, who confronted the man. In the end, the fan was allowed to remain in the stadium for the rest of the game. 

"I think something struck with him because he said 'I'm sorry.' He did apologize," Mayell said. 

Mayell believes it happened because this fan is afraid of extremist Muslims linked to terrorism. Mayell, who is a Sikh American, says he is tired of being lumped into this group because of the color of his skin.

“I think if someone is confronting other people, demanding to know if they are refugees or not, terrorists or not, they have no place in a public stadium like that,” Mayell said.

The Minnesota Vikings released a statement on Wednesday, saying they do not “condone discrimination at any level" and reminding fans there is a "code of conduct" expected during games. 

The Vikings say their internal security staff is investigating the incident. COO Kevin Warren is scheduled to meet with Mayell to discuss the incident.

Minnesota Vikings statement

The Minnesota Vikings first learned of the incident that occurred during Sunday’s Vikings-Seahawks game when Mr. Mayell’s op-ed was printed in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.

What Mr. Mayell conveyed is disturbing and certainly not within the values that we consistently promote throughout our organization and in the community. Creating a positive, respectful and safe game day environment for our fans has always been paramount to the Vikings. We do not condone discrimination at any level and have implemented many tactics to prevent and/or report offensive behavior, including an anonymous texting system that is permanently displayed throughout TCF Bank Stadium and a full-page fan “Code of Conduct” inside The Playbook, which is free and available to all fans upon entering the stadium.

We have reached out to Mr. Mayell and our Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren is scheduled to discuss the incident with him directly. We are also in discussions with our internal security staff, who were unaware of the situation until this morning and are now in the process of investigating the incident. We will have further conversations with University of Minnesota security to create the most effective infrastructure to ensure an unfortunate incident such as this does not happen again, but if it does, that it is properly reported and handled.