During Boston’s game against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night, a banner was unfurled over the Green Monster in Fenway Park’s left field. Black with white lettering, the banner read “Racism is as American as baseball.”
The fans who participated in the demonstration were escorted from the park, although no specific information about their identities or goals was included on the banner.
From one angle, you can clearly tell that the people holding the banner were two white women and one white man, but there was no insignia or further motivating factors on the sign.
This demonstration follows an incident earlier in the year during which Boston fans called Baltimore’s Adam Jones racial slurs from the stands and threw a bag of peanuts at him. Those offenders were banned for life from the ballpark.
While they were being removed, one of the protestors reportedly told security that they were inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Red Sox released the following statement about the protest,
"During the 4th inning of tonight's game, four fans unfurled a banner over the left field wall in violation of the club's policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark. The individuals involved were escorted out of Fenway Park."
Noticeably, the team doesn’t acknowledge the contents of the banner but simply state that it violated rules due to signs being hung at the park.
Update: Members of the group ejected from the stadium agreed to explain their motivations to CSN New England on condition of anonymity, and credited the idea and execution of the banner to “mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes.” It was also confirmed that Black Lives Matter was an inspiration.
The group member’s full explanation of the idea is as such, and they explained their hopes to stay anonymous by saying they wanted people to stay focused on the message.
“There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area. Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of].”
“But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”
In all, four of the five group members involved in the demonstration were ejected. Two of them were taking pictures, and one of those photographers avoided ejection because of his reported distance from the rest.
In a formal written statement, the group said,
“We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism. White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.”
Some people online were confused about whether the message was pro-racism or against it. The protester said it was “telling” that people could even be confused and that it was considered ambiguous by some.
At least now the full message and intent has been explained so there can be no further confusion.
Well, confusion about intent, anyway. You might see a Twitter handle called “Antifa Boston” take credit for the banner — they’re a fake account, though (one that regrettably fooled us in the moment), but you can see that they’re fake thanks to this NY Mag story.