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Dakota Pipeline Protests

Pipeline Protesters Deliver High-Flying Stunt During Vikings Game

Two people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline were arrested after delivering a high-flying stunt and a message — "Divest" — during the Minnesota Vikings' game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Image: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Two protesters rappel from the rafters with a banner against the Dakota Access Pipeline during a game Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn / Reuters

The incident began at 12:47 p.m. (1:47 p.m. ET), when authorities spotted two people near the roof of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, police said in a statement.

The two men, identified as Karl Mayo, 32, and Sen Holiday, 26, according to the statement, were near the stadium's roof when they unfurled a massive white banner that said "Divest #NoDAPL," a reference to the movement against the $3.8 billion pipeline. (A statement obtained by NBC station KARE, which quotes the protesters, identifies Mayo as Karl Zimmerman.)

At the top of the banner was the logo of U.S. Bank, which won a 20-year naming-rights deal on the facility last year, the Pioneer Press newspaper of St. Paul reported.

A group of Minnesota activists claimed responsibility for the stunt. Nina Roberson, a spokeswoman for the group, said the action came at the end of a month's worth of planning intended to put pressure on the Minneapolis-based bank to fully divest from Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company funding construction of the pipeline.

"Up until the point that the Dakota Access Pipeline is no longer under construction, we are going to be taking more actions," Roberson told NBC News. "By putting pressure on U.S. Bank and others in such public places, we're sending a message that will be difficult to ignore."

As the game was played below, Mayo and Holiday allegedly used ropes and harnesses to remain dangling above the crowd until about 3 p.m., the statements said.

In the statement obtained by KARE, Holiday is quoted as saying that the protest was carried out "in solidarity with water protectors from Standing Rock to urge US Bank to divest" from the pipeline.

A U.S. Bank spokesman declined to comment.

After the game, the protesters clambered to the ground and were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor burglary and trespass, the police statement said.

A third person who police said was involved in the incident was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor obstruction. A statement identified her as Carolyn Feldman, 27.

In an earlier statement, the company that manages the stadium, SMG, said the two protesters appeared to have climbed a guardrail to gain access to the stadium's truss.

The protest comes a month and a half after the Army Corps of Engineers announced that more analysis and discussion was needed before it would allow Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, to continue construction.

The decision came amid the largest protest in modern American Indian history — a protest led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota.

The tribe told NBC News on Sunday that it wasn't aware of the protest or its organizers. Divestment is part of the anti-pipeline movement's strategy, with activists using high-profile events to pressure banks to pull financing from the project.