Oil pipeline protesters unfurl banner during Vikings game

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Protesters trying to stymie the Dakota Access oil pipeline unfurled a huge banner inside U.S. Bank Stadium during the Minnesota Vikings' season finale against the Chicago Bears.

Play was not interrupted on the field during Sunday's game, but eight rows of fans below the banner were cleared as a precaution.

The banner urged Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank to divest from the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline. Opponents contend the pipeline could affect drinking water and Native American artifacts. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline will be safe.

In a statement, stadium operator SMG says two people climbed over a guard rail to access the ridge truss. Police are negotiating with the protesters to come down, and about a half-dozen police and firefighters in rappelling gear were seen on the truss, waiting to remove the protesters.

Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley says the team's only concern is ab! out the "safety of our fans and guests."

Protesters say U.S. Bank has extended a large credit line to Energy Transfer Partners. U.S. Bank spokesman Dana Ripley declined comment.

The pipeline is would carry oil from western North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois where it can be shipped on to users. Protesters camped in North Dakota for months to try to stop completion of construction.

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