Red Auerbach, bpd, boston
BPD tweeted out a Black History Month tribute to Red Auerbach, a statue of whom sits in Faneuil Hall. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Eric Kilby

The Boston Police Department is facing some criticism after its official Twitter account honored a white man for Black History Month in a now-deleted tweet.

The department’s original tweet, sent out on Sunday, honored previous Celtics coach Red Auerbach, a white man, for being the first NBA coach to draft an African-American basketball player in 1950.

The tweet also honored Auerbach for fielding “an all African-American starting five in 1964 and [hiring] the league’s 1st African-American head coach (Bill Russell) in 1966,” according to screenshots posted on Twitter.

Though the original tweet has been deleted, and the department sent out another Black History Month tweet Sunday night, this time paying tribute to Bill Russell. Russell played center for the Celtics and who later became first African-American head coach of any major American sport.

Many who caught the first tweet before it was deleted responded to this second Black History Month tribute with screenshots of the original tweet mentioning Auerbach. People called the initial tweet “embarrassing” and “tone deaf.”

“To celebrate Black History Month, the BPD would like to honour a white guy for hiring a black guy,” one person tweeted.

“Apparently no person of color was asked,” another person said in response to the department.  “BPD needs some serious cultural and inclusiveness training in their public affairs department,” said another person.

A few hours later, around midnight, the department apologized for the original tweet.

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

Mayor Marty Walsh also commented on the original tweet from the police department, saying in a statement that it 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," Walsh added. "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."

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