Boston Police Department Apologizes for Black History Month Tweet

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Red Auerbach and Bill Russell sit on the bench

The Boston Police Department honored Celtics coach Red Auerbach to celebrate Black History Month. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Update: February 12 at 12:18 p.m.: Later on Monday, Mayor Marty Walsh issued a statement condemning the police department’s tweet. Walsh did not mince words and said the post “was completely inappropriate and a gross misrepresentation of how we are honoring Black History Month in Boston.” He went on to list several prominent African Americans that the city plans to celebrate in February, including Harriet Tubman, Michael Bivins, and Mel King.

Boston Mayor @marty_walsh just sent out a statement apologizing for the police department’s Black History tweet pic.twitter.com/oMXFAkwSNm

— Astead (@AsteadWesley) February 12, 2018


Previously

After an intense backlash, the Boston Police Department deleted and apologized for a tweet that honored a white man in conjunction with Black History Month.

On Sunday evening, the BPD tweeted a tribute to Red Auerbach, the former Celtics coach, “in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth,” and lauded him for elevating black athletes and coaches in the NBA.

In #Boston we honor a white man for #BlackHistoryMonth. #bospoli pic.twitter.com/E7Jef8lL55

— – (@wheresmyporsche) February 12, 2018

The post was taken down within an hour, and the BPD said in a statement early Monday morning that the department’s “intentions were never to offend.”

BPD realizes that an earlier tweet may have offended some and we apologize for that. Our intentions were never to offend. It has been taken down.

— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) February 12, 2018

Several Twitter users were quick to criticize the BPD for what was broadly perceived as an insensitive tweet. Some, including former mayoral candidate and city councilor Tito Jackson, pointed to the post as reinforcing the stereotype that Boston is plagued by racism.

Only in #Boston do the @bostonpolice honor Red Auerbach for #blackhistorymonth. So we already have the shortest month and now this. Please file this under Hell Nah aka Not Having it aka Not Ok. #bospoli #Boston #mapoli https://t.co/Jv38uutK0e

— Tito Jackson (@titojackson) February 12, 2018

siri show me the most boston police thing ever pic.twitter.com/IbtiOW2hJc

— KT NELSON (@KrangTNelson) February 12, 2018

To celebrate Black History Month, the BPD would like to honour a white guy for hiring a black guy. https://t.co/qDG6baR2qW

— ChipnJoe’s ombudsman (@SnowmanRoberts) February 12, 2018

The Boston Police Department really tried to #AllLivesMatter Black History Month.

— pj (@pjhoody) February 12, 2018

BPD quickly reversed course and re-posted a tribute to Celtics legend Bill Russell later on Sunday evening. Russell was the first black head coach in the NBA and the first African American player to be inducted into the league’s hall of fame.

#ICYMI: In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth we pay tribute to Bill Russell, one of the greatest @celtics of all time and the first African-American head coach in the history of the NBA when he was named @celtics coach on November 15, 1966. pic.twitter.com/gKX7zpcUQt

— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) February 12, 2018

Auerbach worked to break the color barrier in the NBA. He drafted the league’s first black player and assembled the first all-African American starting five in NBA history. But…he was still white.

It’s not the first time the official Twitter account for the BPD has courted controversy around issues of race. Last year, the account tweeted out a picture of black children in front of an ice cream truck and suggested it would make children run towards the police instead of away from them. The tweet was later deleted.

After a whole lot of criticism, looks like Boston Police just deleted this tweet. pic.twitter.com/COZxuIID9U

— 🇺🇸🇨🇦Spencer Buell🇺🇸🇨🇦 (@SpencerBuell) June 16, 2017

The Boston branch of the NAACP has also weighed in on the Auerbach tweet, saying the people of Boston deserve an apology, not the tweet that was sent out, and suggested training on Boston’s racial history for anyone in the city who manages people.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2018/02/12/boston-police-black-history-month-tweet/