BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Marty Walsh is blasting a Black History Month tweet from the Boston Police Department that honored a white man.
The now-deleted tweet posted Sunday evening paid tribute to legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Police noted that he was the first NBA coach to draft a black player, put together the first all-black starting five and hired the league’s first black head coach, Bill Russell.
Walsh released a statement Monday calling the tweet “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,” Walsh said. “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.”
Several people responded to the tweet on Sunday, suggesting the department should have honored someone else.
“As lovely as all those things are that Red did, black history month is not about white men. This is inappropriate,” one person responded.
“Is this a joke?” another asked.
One user called the tweet “tone-deaf,” while another called it a “swing and a miss.”
Later in the evening, Boston Police shared a tribute to Russell, calling him “one of the greatest Celtics of all time.”
Boston Police later apologized for the Auerbach tweet, saying, “Our intentions were never to offend.” On Monday, police tweeted out a statement from Commissioner William Evans, acknowledging the tweet was “insensitive.”
Cedric Maxwell, whose number hangs in the rafters at TD Garden, said there was no need to be offended by the tweet.
“This is called Black History Month, not black people’s month. Red Auerbach advanced the cause,” Maxwell said.
“John Brown is a great abolitionist who fought against slavery at the time. He was white. They celebrate that.”
Darnell Williams, Urban League of Eastern Mass. president, believes the tweet never should have been sent.
“There should be some level of review or scrutiny and diversity and inclusion that would have prevented it from going out in the first place,” Williams said.