BOSTON — The Boston Police Department is apologizing Monday morning after it faced scathing backlash for honoring Red Auerbach, a white man, in a tweet Sunday night.
The tweet posted to the Boston Police Department Twitter account, began by saying, “In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth,” but goes on to celebrate the accomplishments of Auerbach, who was white.
“We pay tribute to @celtics legend #RedAuerbach for being the 1st @NBA coach to draft a black player in 1950, field an all African-American starting five in 1964 and hire the league’s 1st African-American head coach (Bill Russell) in 1966,” the tweet read.
The tweet was deleted about an after it was posted after the backlash.
"Only in #Boston do the @bostonpolice honor Red Auerbach for #blackhistorymonth. So we already have the shortest month and now this" Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson tweeted Sunday night. "Please file this under Hell Nah aka Not Having it aka Not Ok. #bospoli #Boston #mapoli."
Boston police later tweeted out an acknowledgement of Bill Russell, and then apologized for the Auerbach tweet just after midnight Monday.
“BPD realizes that an earlier tweet may have offended some and we apologize for that,” the tweet read. “Our intentions were never to offend. It has been taken down.”
The Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also slammed the Boston Police Department for deciding to honor a white man during Black History Month.
They released a statement on Facebook calling the tweet "perplexing" and "very sad."
"As an organization we are often asked why we talk about race," the statement read. "We are asked to give the city more credit for progress. We do...and then this. Every time we think there may be some signs of hope...we get a reminder that we have a long way to go. A mighty long way to go."
The NAACP said the people of Boston deserve an apology.
“And not the tweet that says ‘May have offended some’ or ‘Not our intention,’” the statement read. “That does not matter. The tweet was offensive. Period.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement Monday:
"Yesterday's tweet from the Boston Police Department was completely inappropriate and a gross misrepresentation of how we are honoring Black History Month in Boston. We are celebrating the accomplishments and limitless contributions of the Black community to our city and the entire country, from Harriet Tubman to great leaders of today such as Chief Justice Ireland, artists like New Edition and Michael Bivins, powerful activists including Mel King and Superintendent Lisa Holmes, the first African-American woman to lead the Boston Police Academy training program. I am personally committing to the people of Boston that we will always honor our Black leaders, activists and trailblazers with the respect they deserve, not just in February, but every day and every month of the year."
Police Commissioner Evans tweeted out a statement:
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