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Vikings to investigate 'refugee' confrontation by fan during game

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings say they will investigate an incident from Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks and talk with a Minneapolis man who said he was confronted by another fan demanding to know if he was a refugee.

In an editorial for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Deepinder Mayell, an attorney and the director of the Advocates for Human Rights' Refugee and Immigrant Program, said he attended his first Vikings game on Sunday when a man at TCF Bank Stadium pushed aside other fans, put his finger in Mayell's face and said he needed to make sure Mayell wasn't a refugee.

"I was stunned," Mayell wrote. "He didn't know anything about me. We were complete strangers. But somewhere in his mind, all he saw was a terrorist, based on nothing more than the color of my skin. He was white, and I wasn't. He didn't see anything else. He didn't know that I have lived in Minnesota for the past four years, that I was born and raised in New York and that the words 'Never Forget' may mean more to me than to him.

"He didn't know that when I went home and my children jumped on top of me and asked 'How was the game?' that I'd be holding back tears as I told them about racism instead of touchdowns."

Mayell wrote he found security staff and later confronted the man in a concourse with a security guard and friend at his side.

The man apologized, Mayell wrote, but in "an adolescent way that demonstrated that he felt entitled to reconciliation as much as he felt entitled to hurl hatred."

When Mayell demanded the man be ejected from the game, he wrote, security staff talked with the man privately but let him stay in the stadium.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Vikings said they had first learned of the incident from Mayell's editorial and had scheduled a discussion between Mayell and chief operating officer Kevin Warren.

The team also said it would meet with University of Minnesota security staff 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."

The Vikings publish a fan code of conduct inside their game program and have an anonymous texting system for fans to report rude or belligerent conduct.

The Vikings have two regular-season home games remaining at TCF Bank Stadium; they will leave their temporary home at the University of Minnesota after the season to move into U.S. Bank Stadium, their new $1.1 billion home in downtown Minneapolis.

"What Mr. Mayell conveyed is disturbing and certainly not within the values that we consistently promote throughout our organization and in the community," the team said in its statement. "Creating a positive, respectful and safe gameday environment for our fans has always been paramount to the Vikings."