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Boston police issue apology for Black History Month tweet honoring Red Auerbach

The Boston Police Department issued an apology hours after posting an insensitive tweet that paid tribute to legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach in honor of Black History Month.

The department came under social media fire on Sunday after praising Auerbach “for being the first NBA coach to draft a black player in 1950, field an all African-American starting five in 1964 and hire the league’s first African American head coach in 1966,” rather than choosing to credit Chuck Cooper, Willie Naulls, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones and Bill Russell for accomplishing those feats.


Former Boston city councilor Tito Jackson was among the department’s most vocal critics on Twitter:


After deleting the original tweet, the Boston police’s social media team reposted a message the department originally shared on Feb. 3, honoring Russell for being the NBA’s first black head coach:


The department then issued this apology shortly after midnight:


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued the following statement on Monday morning:

“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.”

The Boston branch of the NAACP also condemned the tweet in a statement on Monday morning, calling “the decision of the Boston Police Department to celebrate Black History Month by celebrating a white man for hiring Black people … beyond perplexing. It is sad. It is very sad.”

The organization also questioned the department’s response. “The people of Boston deserve an apology,” the NAACP chapter’s statement said, “and not the tweet that says ‘may have offended some’ or ‘not our intention.’ That does not matter. The tweet was offensive. Period.” The branch asked for every manager in the City of Boston to undergo professional training about Boston’s racial history.

Boston police sent Black History Month tribute to Red Auerbach and people were not happy